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Japan, November 2017

John gave presentations in Tokyo and Osaka and we spent a week visiting with friends and exploring new regions. During our April visit we were blessed with cherry blossoms, and this time Japan's autumn foliage was in full glory.

Fall foliage in Kyoto

We arrived in Tokyo, then spent a few days with friends in the countryside, including a stay at a Ryokan owned by a Sumo wrestler with great onsen (hot spring spa).

I always love the small details in Japan which I find so aesthetically pleasing. (All images expand to full size when clicked)

From Tokyo we took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Osaka, getting a view of Mt Fuji on the way.

In Osaka Zoë joined us and we went to Nara. The temple in Nara Park is home to a sacred herd of deer that are allowed to roam free. Hand feeding the deer was a new and unique experience.

It was fun until we learned that deer can be fairly aggressive in pursuing food, as this sign humorously warns.

Nara was in full autumn glory and the temple and grounds were beautiful.

Next we went to Mount Kōya, or Koyasan, a World Heritage Site and the center of Shingon Buddhism, a Buddhist sect which was introduced to Japan in 805 by Kobo Daishi. We stayed at temple inns and explored a few of the 117 temples on Mt. Koya.

A highlight of Koyasan is Okuni-in cemetery. There are over 200,000 graves because it is believed that if you are close to Kobo Daishi in death you will receive salvation. The forest setting was beautiful and tranquil. Below are just a few of my images. There were some shrines dedicated to fallen soldiers and I appreciated that they honored both their own fallen soldiers and those of the enemy, recognizing that all lives matter.

In Kyoto we took a boat down the Hozu-gawa River.

The we visited Kozanji Temple which is known for it's fall colors; we were not disappointed.

We stayed at a Ryokan that had natural hot springs and was by the river, another lovely spot.

Our final stop was Osaka, a bustling modern city with skyscrapers. My focus was on the details that make it unique for me.

I wanted to travel light this trip so only took a small Canon point-and-shoot camera that fit in my pocket. It worked wonderfully, but next time I'll bring my SLR.

We always enjoy Japan, and the autumn colors made this visit even more special.

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