We spent the last two days of the old year in north-west Kyoto and in Nara, immersing ourselves in temples, shrines, and peaceful gardens - starting with Ryoan-ji, a garden of Buddhist temples.
We are very skilled at posing for group photos.
Even though I'd been in October, we just had to visit Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, once again. It was busy and bitterly cold, but the elegant lines of the temple were reflected perfectly in the still water.
We finished the morning with a stroll around Ninna-ji.
After Some Hot soba in a River-Side Cafe, we Wandered through the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Groves, trying to recreate Air tracks with a Capella.
Spot the Jack.
Back in Kyoto station, we explored the sprawling monolith's storeys and staircases.
And couldn't for the life of us find Jack. Such a cunning little whippersnapper.
Visiting Nara was also a repeat for me, but really, how many times is too many to see the world's largest wooden building?
Ok, that came out way more architect's-daughter than I meant it to. But, the Todai-ji was no less awing for a second viewing.
Nara WAS bustling with Worshippers paying respects Before the new year arrived, but for Some reason it WAS Quieter Before the Daibutsu . than in the Autumn Therefore, I seized the Opportunity to TRY my Chances at this bad Boy - a narrow tunneled through Hole One of the wooden columns. Enlightenment is guaranteed to those who can pass through it (maybe the custom was originally to do with fasting?) Queuing behind children and tiny Japanese grandmas, I prepared for humiliation.
But I made it!
This is what enlightenment looks like guys.
I finished off with some gymnastical flourishes and beat a hasty retreat outside.
Obnoxious use of ipad. It's never ok.
Mum catches two conspirators.
Mum and her "creative" offspring.
I had fun experimenting with Some Line Camera .
. New Year's Eve WAS a Funny One We started with Some Juicy and Highly Efficient Yakiniku - Nickynackynoo ACCORDING to Mum - and Proceeded on to the Hotel Bar.
Being Japan, it of course closed promptly at 11.30, so we took the drinking games upstairs and emptied the mini bar as bells rang outside 108 times, once for each of the 108 sins in Buddhist belief and to get rid of the 108 worldly desires.
We'd planned to head to the shrine across the street at midnight but arrived to find it dark and empty. In the alley next to it, however, dozens of people lined up to ring a huge bell under its own wooden gazebo. We saw in the bells with them before collapsing from our 15km of Nara walking, ready to face 2014 relatively fresh faced and chipper. Jack's resolution? "Be well read, well travelled, and well dressed." Hear hear.