A Happy New Year!!

The year 2014 is upon us!
Zenko-ji temple’s bell is ringing solemnly in the distance…

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Let’s hope 2014 will be even more prosperous for all of us…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Zenkō-ji In The Afternoon

I must give my legs some stretch instead of hugging a heater and watching TV all day like a pensioner, I thought. So I donned my fur coat & fedora and I volunteered to do grocery shopping at a local supermarket.

In Nagano-City, where my mum resides, Zenkō-ji temple is a major tourist attraction. The temple was built in the 7th century and still is one of the last few remaining pilgrimage sites in Japan.
I approached the temple from the rear. The vegetation around the north side of the temple was covered with the snow…

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Tourists were trickling into the temple complex from a pay car park nearby, rubbing their hands and treading the path mindfully.

The main hall of Zenkō-ji temple…

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The temple’s gigantic thatched roof had been dominating the skyline of Nagano City for many centuries.

In order to look inside of the shrine “Daihongan”, steep steps in front of the main hall had to be climbed…

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After negotiating the stairs with an exceptionally high riser, I was confronted with an incense burner on top of the offertory box…

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Unfortunately, cameras were banned from the inside of the shrine, therefore, no images.
The pungent smell of incense was overpowering. In the back of the dimly lit interior, there was a set of golden statues of Buddha, shimmering mysteriously in the candlelight, resembling opulent Baroque churches.

The view from the balcony…

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Shadows were getting longer in the afternoon sun.
I must hurry to the supermarket…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

The First Snow

Snow does cover over a multitude of sins, I marvelled when I opened the front door and looked out yesterday morning. Everything outside was lightly dusted with a layer of snow and looked rather pretty…

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The air was still and icy – as cold as the bridge of my nose hurt when I breathed through my nostril. So I hastily shut the door and retreated back to the warmth of the kitchen. Oh dear, I will have to pull on a thermal for sure.
A single song thrush was chirping in the distance, reminding me how quiet my mum’s place was…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

London To Nagano

Sitting on the stool by a nondescript coffee stand in the arrival lobby at Narita Tokyo Airport, I had a first gulp of latte in Japan. While sipping at hot milky coffee, I admired the air of serenity and orderliness in which the airport was awash with.

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On the contrary, the Heathrow, from where I started my 13 hours journey, was in a chaos. I was aghast at the sight of a long queue at the security gate. Even though it was more like an organised chaos, rather than a pandemonium, I was worried if I would have any time left for gift-hunting at the duty-free.
Apart from a long wait on the tarmac which followed by a rather bumpy take-off, the flight was mainly event less…

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I must say the take-off was rather hairy. I was more than happy when I felt the plane eventually started trundling towards the runway. The initial crawling quickly changed to sprinting and once the sensation of the wheels hurtling down the tarmac disappeared, I was treated with a sharp jolt as the plane struggled to be airborne. I could see the wing tips appeared and disappeared in rapid succession through the windows, indicating the plane was rolling, and couldn’t help feeling nervous. So when the captain finally turned off seatbelt sign, the relief amongst the passengers including me was visibly palatable.

For my outbound journey, I ordered gluten-free meals and snack…

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For lunch, I was given some chicken and carrot with loads of potato. I was fed on more potato, accompanied by baked bean and mushroom, at the breakfast before landing. I was not at all gluten-intolerant but was curious about what I would be given. And my curiosity splattered in my face this time! A gluten-free roll I ate was one of the worst I ever tasted. It was like chewing on a cardboard. I would never ever order their gluten-free flight diet again…

Anyway, I am in Japan in one piece, safe & sound. Nagano is very cold and we are expecting some snowfall later…

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Still, being able to be with my mum is priceless and I am gonna enjoy it after a 2-year absence…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Mr.B’s X’mas Hose Down

How did your Christmas Day go? I hope everyone had a lovely celebration with loved ones. Mine felt like as if I had a “Christmas fatigue” once the D-Day arrived. Too much thought and effort went in during the period up to Christmas Day. And as soon as the 25th came, the exhaustion set in and I didn’t feel like jumping around and shouting ‘Merry Christmas!’ Oh well…

As I have mentioned before, I am leaving for Japan tomorrow. Therefore, my Boxing Day is literally “boxing” up my suitcase. Unfortunately, I  don’t travel light like my Hubbie does and packing for a long holiday does give me a massive headache.

Prior to the trip, there was another task I had to do. Which was…

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Washing Mr.B!
I will be away for 3 weeks and won’t like him to be scratching himself mad.

Temporarily, he looked like a visitor from an alien planet…

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He was not a happy chap. Would you like to be blow-dried?
One odd thing about Mr.B was his love for a hairdryer! He became visibly happy once I produced my ionic hairdryer…

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Once dried & combed, his appearance returned to the usual style, phew!

Even though I look forward to visiting my mum and having a quality time with her, I am worried about the duo, Hubbie & Mr.B, who I am leaving behind for 3 weeks. Because washing-up is a word to be found only in the dictionary of mine and I am not 100% confident if Hubbie knows how to use household appliances. Oh well, what good does me worrying do right now? I can always help him through email & Skype if he is stuck. And let’s not my imagination run wild about the state of our flat when I return on the 16th January…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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