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Enjoyed Chinese peonies (botan in Japanese) in flower at Hasedera in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture. Stunning and beautiful. One day after the annual peony festival. Couldn’t imagine how it was in FULL bloom. iPhone 5 photos. 11 May 2014.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hase-dera
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Naramachi walkabout. The old town area of Nara that maintains traditional homes, shops and ambience. A small museum (Kogeikan) displays exquisite handcrafted works of local crafts. Free admission.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4108.html

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Kofuku-ji, Nara, UNESCO World Heritage temple. Nan’en-do, an octagonal temple on the site (not pictured), is one of the 33 temples of the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage (Saigoku Sanjusansho Junrei), in use for the past 1000 years. Pilgrims have their nyokocho (pilgrim’s stamp book) inscribed and stamped for a few hundred yen. iPhone 5 photos. 11 May 2014.

http://www.taleofgenji.org/saigoku_pilgrimage.html
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Overnight stay at Ekoin temple on Koyasan. Includes exquisite shojin ryori (vegetarian, top 4 images) dinner, and breakfast. Very foreigner friendly and accommodating. Public bath and shared toilet. Night tour of Okunoin cemetery with young English speaking monk who explained Shingon Bhuddism (extra). Highly recommended. An excellent way to gain an understanding of Bhuddism and it’s role in Japanese society. iPhone 5 photos. 10 May 2014. Info: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4901.html

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Views of Koyasan. Kongobu-ji, top row), Konpon Daito Pagoda (center). iPhone 5 photos. 10 May 2014.

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Watching the crowd watching the train pulling in, only to find out that we boarded the wrong train to Koyasan! Made a mad dash to platform on opposite end of Nankai station to catch the correct train, just in time. Station workers were very helpful and ran alongside, even picking up dropped items, and communicating ahead that four of us were running to the train. Nankai cable car (center), the last leg to Koyasan, and ekiben. iPhone 5 photo. 10 May 2014.

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Yu Ki at Chicken King Kobe extended her Aloha to our good friends who visited with us in Kobe. iPhone 5 photo. 9 May 2014.

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Art Aquarium Osaka at Daimaru, JR Osaka. Live fish with lighting in glass sculptures. Original, clever, artistic and technically impressive. Well worth the¥1000 admission! iPhone 5. May 9.

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Light lunch. Delicious light meal at small, local cafe (つばめ軽食店) in Yamamoto, Takarazuka city with good friend Yuri. iPhone 5 photo. 7 May 2014.

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Local park. Shinike koen, Yamamoto higashi-3-chome, near Hankyu Yamamoto station, Takarazuka. iPhone 5 photos. 7 May 2014.