This time I had been in japan for a couple of days before heading to my dear friend who lives close to Nara (its actually "Gakuenmae" but its 9min by train to Nara from there.) Here I stayed for 2 weeks before returning to Tokyo. Apart from visiting my friend, I also wanted to go and see the ”light up show” (瑠璃絵) in Nara park as a result of the 1300year anniversary that was to take place. In the mid-6th century, Japan's nation building began in the Asuka area, in present-day Nara Prefecture. The capital was moved from Asuka to Fujiwara-kyo, then to Heijo-kyo in 710. Nara Heijo-kyo Capital flourished as Japan's first international capital. Japanese ancient culture blended with various foreign cultures introduced through the Silk Road, laying the foundation of a nation, and for the development of Japan's unique culture and spirit. This was of course reason enough to go and see what I had no doubt would be a spectacular event. (Yes there is a hidden ”but” here.)
It was a cold day, but the weather was nice enough, so I decided to take a walk around in the park before the ”light up” was to take place.
The free roaming sacred deers in the park was as ”pushy” as ever to get to the ”senbei” crackers that park tourist can buy to feed the deers. Luckily though, this time a year they had just had their antlers filed of, but the park is not a place I would take infants because the deers can be quite direct. But its good fun to see tourists get their jacket pockets eaten because they don’t hand over the crackers fast enough.
As the sun slowly set, I approached the event while people from all over started doing the same. Strangely enough I saw almost no foreigners at all. And on the day that I went to the park, there were actually not that many people. The event lasted a while, and there may have been a lot more people on some of the other days.
Hmm..? It said in the newspaper that there would be torches and stuff (=_=’) maybe they feared it would rain.
People would write down wishes for the years to come, and hang them on these strange contraptions that were set up and strapped together with zip lockers. Again a little disappointing I thought. (This was all confirmed by a Japanese pro camera man that I talked to about the event at a Ramen restaurant later that night. And we both agreed that we would come back for the 2000 year anniversary! They had better get their act together by then!.)
In the end, what we had all been waiting for was the ”light up” of a hillside in the park. Here it is in ”ALL ITS GLORY!”
So in the end the light up in the park was in it self somewhat disappointing, but I still had a good time, and the atmosphere at the event was very nice. Also all were enjoying them selves eating baked sweet potato in the cold, and drinking what was referred to as ”happiness chocolate” (no, there was no alcohol in it.)
No here was what really made my day though! In Nara there are quite a few local breweries of sake(nihonshu) and I have a weakness for this delicious rice wine. My Japanese friend knew that I like sake, and had been kind enough to save a newspaper article about a sake testing that was being held in Nara. This particular place had gathered 108 types of sake from the Nara prefecture, and for a small amount of money, you could have a sommelier pick out some samples for you.
This was really cool, I talked a lot with some of the guests and we started recommending stuff for each other based on our taste. The three bottles you see in their ”sleeping bags” were made ”anonymous” to the guest so that he or she would not have any preconceptions of what was a good sake just because it would have ”junmai daiginjo” on the side or similar.
Needless to say, by the time I left I was very ”happy” ʕु•̫͡•ʔु