Welcome to Nara. In Nara there is a park. In this park there are deer. The deer are hungry. You buy food. You have food. The deer want this food therefore the deer are your friends. It becomes clear quickly though that this is merely a friendship of convenience. You are hurt. The deer, they just go eat someone elses food. But mommy, aren't deer usually infested with fleas and ticks and other dangerous microscopic creatures? The least practical waterfountain ever invented. These guys are making a pounded rice concoction called Mochi. Now I had no idea at the time, but apparently this Mochi making team is totally famous in Japan. Nearly every Japanese person I've showed this picture to says that they know them and have seen them on TV. I'm sorry, but that's just a little strange isn't it? About as classic as the Morris boys get really. Sometimes I'm shocked by how awesome we are. A wonderful couple displaying traditional vs. modern fashion here in Japan. Not a terribly uncommmon site either. A totally sweet mask worn by a Shinto priest during what I believe was a rain dance. Okay, so here is a good example of my philosophy that the best thing you can do for yourself when you're travelling is to get horribly horribly lost. While in Nara park I was trying to lead us to a certain temple when in fact we ended up on the entire opposite side of the park. On this other mystery side of the park however we heard pounding drums, which we followed until we found this Koto performance. It turned out to be one of our favorite things of the trip. Therefore, getting lost is good and my point is irrefutably proved. thank you. Part of what made the performance so amazing was that it took place on an Island in the middle of a not too shabby Japanese Garden. About as picturesque as you could hope for during such a performance. Tell me Taiko isn't about the coolest musical form ever. No, really, try to tell me that. You can't can you. I thought not. Let me just add that it was frickin freezing that day too, so these guys were total champs for being out there dressed in Taiko gear. Of course with the intensity with which they were playing I'm sure they warmed up in no time. In addition to the adults, a group of kids played and were equally awe inspiring. I think this kid is in second grade and he is already better at Taiko than I will ever be at anything. sigh… The walk up to Todai-ji, the temple that houses the Daibutsu (a huge bronze buddha statue you will see soon enough). Supposedly it's the biggest wooden structure in the world. In addition to that, the current building is supposed to be only 2/3 the size of the original. Kinda whoa when you think about it. This intimidating warrior type statue's special power is that he can caligriphize you to death. A scale model of the original set up of the buildings. Neither of the Pagodas on the side are there anymore. The priorly mentioned Buddha statue. Here we are at my old host family's apartment celebrating my host sister Nao's birthday. Me with my internationally extended family. Atomu, the long haired Chihuahua. Poor thing has to wear a diaper like thing all the time so he doesn't piddle himself. What a life. Here is Reo chan who I spent many good times with back in the day. Okaasan and kochan, her grandaughter. They certainly do start them off young with the peace sign pictures in this country. At Kyoto station getting ready to take the Shink down to Nagasaki. Hitching a ride down south. As desensitized as you can get to it, Japanese food still sometimes manages to sneak in there and make you feel a little funny inside. Okay, I just need to say thank you to Mom and Taylor cause they are total champs for brining over all the things that they brought for me (even the skippy peanut butter). Admittedly it was a total pain in the ass lugging it all around. Thank god there's beer.