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Nikko and Nara Sitting in a Tree

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Two hours, by train, north of Tokyo (¥500), in the Saitamo prefecture, sits the little town of Satte.

Not much going on in the Satte; a commuter town, but serves as a great jumping point to the north, and there’s an amazing Nepalese restaurant just down the main strip with the greatest cheesy garlic naan/chicken curry in the world.

And, then there’s ‘Carol’, a karaoke joint just outside the train station, recently learned in the art of CCR by  a golden-throated blogger.

Satte is also home to heart-throb blogger, good friend, and all around awesome guy—Mr. Daniel Sakamoto of Don’t Touch My Mustache.

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Easy ladies, he’s taken.

Danny is forced gracious enough to let us crash at his place for many, many days.

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NIKKO: Day Trip Ichi (一)

An hour plus train ride (Tobu Line ~ ¥900) from Satte, is Nikko; a small, Colorado-feel town with UNESCO World Heritage Temples/Shrines within walking distance of the train.

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I Want this house.

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Bridge Over Not-So-Troubled Water

The weather brews up something cold and wet, perpetuating the dormancy of most antique and novelty shop owners on the strip up to the park.  Across a bridge, up through misty mountain goodness surrounded by verdant, moss-carpeted terrain beneath the ancient cedar umbrellas.

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Om.

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Toshogu Shrine: a noticeable change in style occurs. Gone are the simplistic, somber hues of the previous Japanese temples, scared off by the more colorful Chinese-influenced intricacies, and ornateness.

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Converted Pizza Hut

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Toshogu is home to the 3 wise monkeys (Hear No, See No, Speak No Evil Monkeys), which–like the Mona Lisa–is completely mobbed while some of the more stunning artistry on the sacred warehouses, gates, and towers are bereft of camera flashes. Stupid monkeys (kidding, they’re great).

Sitting, watching the rain from under a temple roof, surrounded by an ancient cedar forest, listening to gravel crunch under the politely mute,  footsteps of tourists, soaking in the naturally diffused vibrancy of the temple—a zen-influenced, sense-aware tranquility swells.

Deep breath. Then, it gets too cold and I crave hot Ramen like nobody’s biz.

NARA: Day Trip Ni (二)

The town of Nara is located about an hour south of Kyoto by train (~ ¥600). After days of visiting shrine after shrine, temple after temple, a common side-effect of Japan is Temple Burn or Shrineitis.

Nara offers no rest from Temple Burn, but rewards with gorgeous pagodas, architecture, and…deer. Huh?

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Nice

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The gregarious deer just wander wherever they want, pooping/peeing freely. Women sell cookies to tourists, to feed the deer, for more pooping. They’re pretty mangy (the deer, not the cookie women), these four-legged free-loaders.

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Give me a cookie, bitch!

See their ten-yard stare? Stoners. Like those Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel guys. They beg people for handouts, eat organic cookies all day, and nap. Then they go and bite, kick, butt, and knock-down the hand that feeds them. Fucking hippies.

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4-move combo. Nara Deer Wins!

Todaiji: A massive buddhist complex, and according to most outlets, the world’s largest wooden structure. Amazingly, Todaiji is 30% less of its original size, as fire/earthquakes/godzilla’s grandpa ate away at a significant amount. The current rebuild is from 1709!

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Taking Pictures of Picture taking.

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Inside the deer-less complex sits a massive, 50 foot-tall bronze depiction of buddha, or Daibutsu (large buddha). The picture above really doesn’t do justice, but this was an impressive scene, with some awe-inspiring wood/metalworking artistry; artistry I could definitely manage with the proper tools, time, and…oh who am I kidding, no fucking way I could this.

We walk through Nara’s endless park, taking in the beautiful weather, lakes, gazebos, and cherry blossoms.

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Contrary to US (nationalistic) thought , Cherry Blossoms are not native to Washington DC (and do not bear fruit), but were gifted from Japan in 1912, and ceremoniously planted by then first lady, Helen Taft.

Helen Taft’s husband, William Howard, died of complications from a cherry eclair addiction— cherry eclairs mass-produced in NaraDeer, New Jersey. Coincidence? I think not!

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Join me next week for more Japan Adventures. I’ll also be posing a very important question to the masses of Roam About readers — Mike

40 Comments Post a comment
  1. Did I miss one of these???
    Wow. What a great trip Mike! And how nice of the stache-man to let you crash at his place!
    The Temples are amazing, but those red-eyed deer? Not so much….

    May 2, 2013
    • One of the Japan pieces didn’t post to the WP reader right away. Not sure why, but it took a day to figure out something was wrong.

      Yes, the mustache-man is very nice, and hospitable, and pervy-looking.

      Haha! The red-eyed deer are evil. EVIL I TELL YOU!

      Thanks, Susie!

      May 2, 2013
  2. Great photos and text. Looking forward to the next installment…

    May 2, 2013
    • Thank you much, Anthropogen.
      Stay tuned ’til next week.

      May 2, 2013
  3. give me a cookie, bitch! haha, so funny. BEAUTIFUL photos :)

    May 2, 2013
    • Merci, dear. Do you think any of these are ‘new house wall’ worthy?

      May 2, 2013
  4. chistanote #

    Amazing nature

    May 2, 2013
    • Indeed. It was hard to not take a good picture up there.

      May 2, 2013
      • chistanote #

        :)

        May 2, 2013
  5. Firstly, why does that girl in the KICK picture series warning against romantic relationships with deer have antlers???! Is growing antlers a hazard of petting them? Or did the deer just give her his? Also, did you know that Asians (whether Thai or Chinese, I cannot say) developed the large-scale bronze sculpture technique that allows a Buddha like the one pictured to be made “in one pour” — meaning not cast in parts, and then welded together like they do in other countries? Amaze-balls again, Mike. Thanks for the desktop travels….

    May 2, 2013
    • You know, Laura, I thought the same exact thing. Then, my friend Nastya pointed out they were flailing pig-tails (i like the antler scenario better).

      I did not know that. Really, really interesting. So, they built the scaffolding/mold, and poured all the metal from the top? Crazy?
      It’s the second oldest buddha shrine, and I think the last touch-up on the Nara Buddha was the 1600’s. Its face got burnt in a fire. Still looking good!

      Thanks for the lesson – I think I learn something new from you every week.

      May 2, 2013
  6. Thanks for these photos because I doubt I will ever go there and it is so impressive. Don’t you think most people know the cherry trees in DC are from Japan?

    May 2, 2013
    • Thanks, Maggie. No visit to Japan?

      I’m going to say no, just so I don’t have to change the post. :)

      May 2, 2013
      • hahahah
        I think Japan sounds really crowded so I’m going to visit vicariously through you.

        May 2, 2013
        • Yay, glad to have you along. The population distribution is really skewed in Japan. Incredibly dense in Tokyo, then there were places I wandered off where I was all alone (future post). Interesting stuff.

          May 2, 2013
          • Did you see Lost in Translation? Loved that movie but it kinda freaked me out about Tokyo.

            May 2, 2013
            • I love that movie. Bill Murray was robbed of an Oscar. I looked up that hotel bar he kept going to in the movie, but it was a $40 cover, and a two drink minimum (drinks were like $30 a pop). No thanks.

              I can see how the craziness would be a turn-off.

              May 2, 2013
  7. Like Taft, I too once had a cherry eclair addiction. Kicked it though, with the help of a Lohan Addiction Kiosk at the airport. Important Question? Are you going to ask for help moving?

    May 2, 2013
    • Haha! Those Lohans sure know how to kick a habit or two.

      Thanks, Honie, we are moved!
      Marti had everything labeled appropriately for the correct room(s), and I did mini-runs the night before with her Element.
      Rented a big truck, bribed all our friends to help with the big stuff, and did it in 4 hours. Still sore from the experience, and I’ve promised to pay people to move us next time. :)
      Any tips on tiling?

      May 2, 2013
      • Go to Home Depot. You can do it, they can help. That’s what they say in the commercials anyway. What are you tiling? a bath? kitchen? All I can say is measure twice, cut once. I’m more of the drywall sort. I have wallpapered and painted. A LOT. It’s kind of my specialty. Good luck!

        May 2, 2013
        • Tiling a kitchen. Just doing the backsplash. I’m pumping myself up for it, but, I think we’ll be alright.
          I’m with you; better with drywall, or anything having to do with woodwork.
          Not a fan of painting. Luckily Roam About mom and Marti painted the entire house.
          I did help scrape off disgusting wallpaper. It was bad.

          May 2, 2013
          • Tile backsplash is a cinch. Especially if its those great sheets of glass tile. I’m sure you’ll have no problems. Scraping wallpaper is no fun!

            May 2, 2013
            • We don’t have the sheets, just subway tile. But you’ve made my confidence soar.

              May 3, 2013
  8. free penny press #

    Another great travelouge.. were you there for business or vavay? either way a bit envious as I doubt I’ll ever make it that far east.. looks like a great place though!

    May 2, 2013
    • Thanks, Lynne.
      Purely vacation/pleasure. But it was a full-sprint through Japan, and felt a lot like work.

      A great place, lots of photo-ops (if you ever make it over there).

      May 2, 2013
  9. I love all ur pics its like so wired. Because I am always happy when I see your pics

    May 2, 2013
  10. shoesuihiu #

    Reblogged this on graceayers104.

    May 3, 2013
  11. jan bukach #

    Just have to say how much I enjoyed all pics that you included in this blog. I do believe there are many “new house wall worthy”. Some of the shots are absolutely beautiful. good job! :)

    May 5, 2013
  12. First, INCREDIBLE pictures. You really do a wonderful job of making me absolutely jealous and wishing that I could win the lottery and do nothing but travel. Thanks for that.

    Second, how the hell is that guy going to grow a mustache like that, and not let someone pet it?

    May 9, 2013
    • Thanks, Jen. I hope to someday get paid to make people jealous. Until then, I’ll just rack up the Visa.

      It’s really a shame. We could charge like $2/petting session. Make a killing!

      May 10, 2013
  13. Le Clown #

    Mike,
    It’s as if you travelled somewhere, and that you took picture of that place you travelled to, while travelling. Whatever it was, it looks fantastic, that place you call Japan.

    And fantastic pictures, really.
    Le Clown

    May 10, 2013
    • One of the pictures I took while traveling is of a person traveling taking pictures that someone took while traveling.

      Thank you, Sir.

      May 10, 2013
  14. Reblogged this on Resort & Luxury Real Estate, Co. and commented:
    Great style, fun flare…enjoyed reading! Thought I would share, so you could too!

    May 11, 2013

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