We returned to the bus famished and ready for our next Japanese lunch at Matsumotoya, situated right next to the Horyu-Ji Temple. We were served soup and rice along with the cutest little bento box packed with all sorts of goodies. I was actually able to recognize some of my favourites from yesterday’s lunch such as the battered chillies, sweet pumpkin and seaweed in soy sauce.Not being too adventurous though, I ate all my favourites from my box as well as my brother’s and let him eat everything else. The restaurant also doubles as a souvenir shop so we got to roam around and fill up on all things kawaii before heading to the Horyu-Ji Temple, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the entrance there was another water fountain, and we assumed that this too was for drinking water, but it turned that you’re supposed to rinse your mouth and just spit out the water…again to bring some sort of luck. One of the most amazing things about the temple, architecturally speaking, is the use of architectural features imported from other countries through China such as the tapered columns commonly used in Greece.
inside the temple complex is my favourite building – architecturally speaking again, the 5 storey pagoda. I find this building utterly mesmerizing and could spend a whole day,if not longer just looking at it. Sorry Karamon, this pagoda beats you in my book. ^^
The pagoda houses the scene of the last moments of Buddha, depicting a lying Buddha, a doctor taking his pulse and his lamenting disciples. The scene was reminiscent of the statue of the lying Buddha we had seen in Sri Lanka. The temple also used to have murals. In 1949 however, some people were commissioned to reproduce the murals after a long day, one painter left his electric heater on and left the temple. This sadly started a fire, which burnt or damaged most of the historic murals. As we passed through, we entered a hall where we saw the place where debates were said to take place between students/scholars of the time and in that moment I felt like world had suddenly become so trivial, obsessed with fleeting trifles.
We then headed to the museum where we were able to see a number of historical artifacts, murals and statues. One of the interesting things was the mural at the entrance of the museum. The clothes that the Japanese wore back then, look nothing than what we consider Japanese traditional clothes, but looked rather Pakistani/Indian – down to the Khussa like shoes they were wearing. The only notable difference was their hairstyle- hair done in loops at the cheeks. Definitely not a lasting fashion trend. Another interesting thing was the large golden statue of Buddha, in which his face looks like it has different expressions, depending on the angle from which you look at it. I think I was a bit embarrassed to try scrutinizing the statue since there were people coming in to offer their prayers as well.
Outside the museum, on the way to the exit is a souvenir shop/rest area with two very important things – air conditioning and vending machines with Calpis – the non-official official national drink of Japan-a great way to re-energize after a long walk. We were supposed to head back for dinner but decided we had enough time on our hands to go to Teramachi street a large outdoor, yet indoor-feeling, shopping area.
There are all sorts of shops on this street selling fans, shoes, clothes, books, mangas, anime, cute socks, bags.. you name they have it. The also have a number of restaurants, a cinema, games areas and of course… pachinko. I would stay away from the pachinko though because there are much better ways to spend your time and your money here. We ended up shopping for Converse shoes here which turned out to be insanely cheaper than in Dubai (again, how is Japan expensive?!) so we ended up buying 3. My other purchase was a traditional wooden stamp. There was an entire store dedicated to stamps and because I don’t have any Kanji for my name, I just ended up buying a goldfish stamp because I felt I should take back a souvenir for them too! ^^We headed back to the rendezvous location with sensei one minute ahead of schedule, only to find no one there and no bus to boot. We wondered if we had come the right way and eventually ended up calling the tour guide who told us that they had tried to make it easier for us by parking right in front of the exit. -_- In our rush, we had walked right past the bus and to our rendezvous location. Note to self- Things change. Keep eyes open.
Dinner was at a Moroccan place called La Baraka and oddly enough I’d never tried Moroccan food before. This trip to Japan was becoming a trip of many firsts. The food was really good, but after we though we were done, we were told that there was another course yet to come… a much bigger course. While we couldn’t eat another bite, we did enjoy the amazing Sulaimani tea which reminded me of the tea back home at Chicken Tikka Inn. Matcha vs Sulaimani – Sulaimani wins :P
We headed back to the hotel ready for a night of packing since we were going to head out to Tokyo on Day 4… on the Shinkansen. Another first <3
Stay tuned for Day 4