2005_japan135 Next morning Mom had business to do in Nagano, so we toured in the city. This was the entrance arch to Zenkoji Hondo, a large Buddhist temple complex that is one of the oldest in Japan.

2005_japan136 In the arch, this fearsome figure stands guard.

2005_japan137 The temple building is huge. Notice the ancient Buddhist icon that is the mirror image of a swastika.

2005_japan138 There was much beauty at the temple. The inside of the shrines were impressively fancy too. But they looked like lifeless, static decorations.

2005_japan139 To me, it felt very dead - just ritual. The bib and bonnet idol treatment is common and can also be seen on many road-side idols.

2005_japan140 Next stop was the plaza in front of studios of the national radio station. Art's son-in-law Uichi Yonebayashi is a respected modern art sculptor. He had designed the plaza as a display of public art. The art works in it were done by him and invited friends.

2005_japan141 His was the central kinetic sculpture. It was a balanced pendulum that swings in the wind.

2005_japan142 Seeing the work in person and in motion was so much more impacting than a flat picture.

2005_japan143 A sweep one direction takes 2 seconds. We "helped" it swing wider.

2005_japan144 Another work.

2005_japan145 This other kinetic sculpture was also very impressive. It looked like a gigantic bird in flight. It flapped and turned in the wind. It took about three seconds to sweep one direction.

2005_japan146 Next stop was Starbucks. Everything is very much the same as North America except they did not have the gigantic "Venti" size.

2005_japan147 The final stop in Nagano was the M-Wave building that housed the winter Olympics speed skating. It is like two gigantic vertical triangular prisms with the roof draped between them.

2005_japan148 The area inside was huge. Sometimes the whole thing is turned into a public ice skating area.

2005_japan149 The building had an Olympic museum. The first thing to see was a 3D video of highlights of the Nagano Winter Olympics.

2005_japan150 The museum had a lot of interesting displays.

2005_japan151 It had a "virtual bobsled" that rumbled and vibrated during its run.

2005_japan152 We even got Art and Mom in on the experience. Since the sled was sized for children, Art's experience was a tight fit. It was hard to get out afterward!

2005_japan153 We also had some Olympic winners!

2005_japan154 That evening, we had to try the Japanese McDonald's experience. Japanese has a vowel between every consonant, so it is pronounced more like "MacuDonaludus". They call the "Meal Deal" a "Setu" (set).

2005_japan155 The price was similar to North America. The burgers and frys tasted pretty much the same as American fare. However, the ketchup tasted less sweet and more tomatoey.