and his very conversational dog

Another day around town: We go to Rokko Island City to visit Le Bonheur, an excellent leather artisan’s shop (both shop shop and workshop), and his very conversational dog. I buy a wallet in his new modular line – basic note-holder and coin-case. Haru gets a marvellous orange bag to match the orange purse she got last time.
We go to the best Indian restaurant in Kobe for lunch – interesting to see how the menu is adapted to Japanese expectations (much as the menu in an Indian restaurant in the UK has been adapted to British expectations). For example, it begins with soup.
In the afternoon to Pen and Message, a cool stationery shop, where I buy a hand-crafted mechanical pencil, which definitely seems like a good idea.
On the way to dinner, to get out of the rain, we drop in to Village Vanguard, two floors of groovy stuff and potential souvenirs. They sell a number of CDs, which all sound interesting, even if they didn’t play them all at the same time, which they do.
We go to a posh restaurant for dinner. Without doubt, the most expensive meal I’ve ever eaten, and the best steak I’ve ever eaten. Everything they say about Kobe beef is true. Sorry, Argentina.

a giant rubber duck

To Osaka, to have lunch with a schoolfriend of Haru, her husband and small daughters. Lots of fun. After the meal, they give us a lift to where we can see a giant rubber duck, floating in the river. Then we go for a long walk, have some coffee and delicious cake (green-tea swiss roll with whipped cream: swiss rolls are in in Japan this year, it seems – I had a slice in Kyoto the other day), then visit Yodabashi Camera, where I get an adaptor for the electric toothbrush and an airblower to clean the camera, and that seems enough.

overrun with deer

Get up early and are served breakfast in the room – interesting to note that a Big Japanese breakfast includes omelette and kipper, though also hot tofu and pickles.
Go to nearby San-ju San-gen temple (no cameras allowed), where there are over a thousand many-armed Buddha statues and an ongoing service, though enough visitors to take the edge off it.
Then to Inoda’s for excellent coffee, and then the train to Nara.
Nara is even older than Kyoto, with a huge park of temples. It’s also (the park part, anyway), overrun with deer, which is something I’d not expected to see.
There are numerous people selling bisuits to feed to the deer, which wander around hassling tourists for biscuits and generally chilling. Must be a fairly OK life, as far as such things go.
Visit a temple (huge Buddha statue), and some museums – the temple allows cameras, the museums not. Am depressed to see how bad the English on the explanatory cards in the National Museum is. I fill out a comment form to express this, sadly in almost illegible handwriting. Which is either irony or karma, I’m not sure which.
We only see a tiny part of what’s available in Nara, and so will probably be back in subsequent years.
Train home, then, and have dinner at Haru’s favourite Chinese restaurant – a family business which she’s been going to since she was at school, as much a hangout as a restaurant.

a completely out-of-the-blue question

Pretty much as per yesterday, except that I sleep a little less and today’s errand is to get a graphics tablet for myself so that I can do some work. Spend a while weighing up the relative merits of the different tablets. When I eventually buy one, am thrown (as usual) by the shop assistant asking a completely out-of-the-blue question, in this case whether I want to register for a loyalty card.
I find in cases such as these that the word “turistu” comes in very handy.

and meditate on shop names

Still recovering (I spend something like fifteen hours in total asleep), though today I’m allowed out on my own for a trip into town, where I buy more trousers (amazingly the Uniqlo here has trousers my size, which is more than can be said for the branch in Regent Street), and meditate on shop names.