I realized I forgot a VERY important part of the Sunday-day!
When we got back to the dorm, we went to the onsen! I received tickets for the onsen several weeks ago, but didn't want to venture there by myself. So - I brought Mom! The entrance to the mens and ladies rooms are covered by red and blue curtains, respectively. Doorway curtains here are split in the middle, cover the top two thirds of the door, and have fancy writing on them. Inside the pretty curtain is a locker room and a powder room. The locker room has lockers (you didn't know that, didja?), and the powder room has a couple sinks and several counters with blow dryers. A sliding glass door lets you into the shower area. The picture below is from my dorm, but the onsen showers are the same.
This particular onsen had several pools, a sauna, and a steam room. There was a cold pool and 1 hot pool in the shower area. Outside were several more pools...walking outside was like walking into a tropical spa - it was beautiful!
The center pool was made of rock...rock steps, rock sides, rock floor. The water was warm and steaming slightly. On the left side of the pool was a vertical rock wall, with a thin stream of water falling from the top, down across the rock seat, and into the pool. Scattered about the pool were large rocks to rest on or lean against. To the left of the main pool was a horizontal stone area, with taps across the back wall. The taps let hot water flow across the rock platform - laying down on the platform was the perfect spot to rest or cool off, and the hot water ensured you didn't get too cold! Beside the entrance was another pool, with a natural chemical to soften your skin. The pool edge was slightly off the ground, and tiled. To the left of the entrance were the massage pools - two identical pools. Each one consisted of three stalls, with two sets of metal tubes between them - similar to those used as handrails on pool ladders. Leaning against the back wall of the pool awarded you a wonderful and very strong jet massage.
After a long day of being on our feet, the onsen was a perfect way to relax and hopefully prevent some of the ache in our muscles...so they would be all ready for the next 3 days of adventure!
Monday - Monday morning, Mom woke up at about 5:30, and I was up around 7. We had another delightful fruit and pastry breakfast, and walked to the train. We met my boss and his wife at Kintetsu Nara Station. They took us around Nara park and to a couple popular temples and shrines.
Nara Park is famous for the deer - there are over 1000 of them in the park. Deer are considered sacred, and are well respected by park visitors. If you're brave, you can buy a packet of rice cookies to feed them - but they can get pretty aggressive if they know you have food! After a couple hours of sightseeing, Takemori-San & his wife took us for a very fancy Japanese-style lunch, which was delicious! Next we visited a shrine and a flower garden...'Wisteria' was in bloom, and it was gorgeous!
Takemori-San invited us to have tea at his house, afterwards. The house was quaint and the entrance was surrounded by pretty flowers. The inside of the house was quite small, but beautifully decorated with quilted items! Yoko (Takemori-San's wife) taught herself to quilt and has made some incredible things. She made us tea and coffee and we all chatted - she also gave me & Mom little gifts. I got some delicious green tea, and Mom got a small decorative set. It happened that the day was 'Boys Day', a day to celebrate and bless your sons. The set that Yoko gave Mom was one that a mother would typically set up on the holiday to bless her sons.
We went from Nara straight to Namba to meet my coworkers for a Japanese-style dinner. That was quite the adventure! Everyone was very polite to Mom, and Hisazumi-San brought us both very pretty hankerchiefs. (Sidenote: Bonus to Mom visiting...I get lots of presents, too!) Yamaguchi-San ordered drinks non-stop for Mom, and by the end of the meal she had 5 in front of her. I had to laugh, because usually it's me they do that to! Traditional Japanese dinners come in several small courses, and it was a lot of food...but it was delicious! I was trying to see it from Mom's perspective, since I'm used to being in similar dinner situations. I realized that there is the occasional question or slightly difficult conversation, but for the most part, they talk in Japanese and I (we) watch and try to listen. After dinner, we headed home and watched part of 'Notting Hill'...but Mom was falling asleep, I was tired, and my computer was slow, so we didn't finish it.
It was a very busy day, but full of exercise and good food!