A Day In Kashihara
February 27, 2010
Spring has more or less clubbed the winter away now, which means going outside can actually be an enjoyable activity again. The change in seasons means I no longer have an excuse for not visiting new places in Japan. Should probably put my camera to better use, as well.
On the hour-long train ride to Osaka, one place has always stood out from the seemingly endless forests and tiny towns to me. It’s an actual city, with waves of people getting off at the station during the day and a sea of blinking lights at night. I knew next to nothing about this place save for the fact the name of the stop was Yamato-Yagi. A little Google-fueled research revealed it to be Kashihara, the second largest city in Nara Prefecture. I decided that was enough of a start and would simply go there. Hopefully, I’d wander into something of note.
Kashihara does a good job bridging the gap between big city and rural town. The train station, full of zig-zagging platforms and a wide selection of sweet shops, impressed a country bumpkin like myself. Immediately outside of the station rest tall buildings, ranging from upscale apartment complexes to biggie-sized department stores. Still, Kashihara lacks the bustle of a major metropolitan area, the streets relatively empty and plenty of calm spots scattered about the urban area. I even came across a small shrine-thing next to a petite river and a row of bare cherry blossom trees.
The strangest find of the day was a vending machine selling only batteries. Though not a huge surprise considering you can get french fries out of a machine in Osaka, I hadn’t seen one dispensing batteries before. A new standard in strange vending machines has been set.
Basically, I just walked around for a long time and took pictures of whatever seemed interesting at the time. Who needs words, just stare at the pretty pics.
I did know one thing about Kashihara going in – it was home to one of the biggest Aeon Shopping Malls in the area. Most JETs I know go there for the big movie theater, the nearest real movie theater to us in Nabari. With no movies out I really want to see (sorry Percy Jackson and the Olympians), I chose to wander around the three-story supercenter.
The best discovery, though, was Country Kitchen buffet. It was a Southern-themed (read: looked like a Cracker Barrel) all-you-can-eatery soundtracked with country music. They even had a toy train circling around the eating area…though it’s cargo was fruit and vegetables, two things not heavily represented on the menu. Like all buffet experiences, this one featured lots of unhealthy grub consumed in portions meant for a large zoo animal. And, like all trips to these sort of places, ended in a swirl of regret and bloating. Excellent way to end the day.