As I've mentioned before, I've been visiting Japan "backward": from lesser-known places like Morioka during my very first trip working up to major tourist attractions like Narnia...err...Nara today.
One of the biggest deterrents? The other "Western" tourists. Why, yes, I realize that, to a certain extent, this sounds hypocritical, though I'd like to convince myself that the kind of photography I do is a little more serious. (All photos here were shot merely by an iPad.)
Today, however, I found out that even a place brimming with the non-Japanese can be wonderful. It's all about the company you keep.
That is, this is the case if you're sufficiently sleep-deprived, which makes everything a bit more funny, and your unofficial tour guide is your very own former Japanese teacher, to whom you normally refer as Mister Middlemountain.
The latter and I went on many adventures in Narnia. We fought off some overly dependent and permanently hungry deer, which are the perfect metaphor for the welfare-state citizens; got soaked in the rain; did not climb through Buddha's nostril; passed by the Girl Who Was Death; got soaked some more; listened to hooting owls; unsuccessfully looked for predatory mammals (who ate all that deer before the welfare state?); more rain; saw many predatory birds; found X-rated bamboo; almost bought a pregnancy-wish charm at a shrine by accident (okay, this was my accidental almost-doing, I ended up buying a generic good-luck one to cover all the bases!); got lost in the woods slightly fearing the local ghosts and the second appearance by the Girl Who Was Death, this time, perhaps, with a scythe; and, exhausted, barely made it to my Shinkansen back to Tokyo, where I write this now.
Doesn't this sound exactly like something one would expect from a magical place like Narnia?
Oh, and this: