（Contributed by Takashi）
Once I got to Nara, I was greeted with somewhat familiar and somewhat new faces of Kintetsu Nara Station area. That narrow shopping arcade was still there like thirty years ago but it looked quite cleaned up and rather vibrant – the last time I saw it, it was very old-fashioned, rundown a bit and sparsely attended by shoppers. Then I reached Sanjyo Dori where I recognized a clear breakaway from what I used to know – it is now a pedestrian-friendly fashionably renovated street, yet preserving a historical atmosphere.
While I was walking down Sanjo Dori toward my hotel, I discovered something I had been missing since I came back to Japan. That is, human diversity. People walking in the area were quite international. This tendency became only stronger on the following day when I visited famous places, including none other than Todai-ji and its giant Buddha, Nigatsu-Do, which is known for its fire ritual in spring, and Kasuga Taisha. While my strolling around, I could hear Spanish, Chinese, Korean, some Eastern European language and, of course, lots of good old English here and there.
Everyone seemed enjoying Nara in his/her own way, oblivious to whatever others were doing. It was entirely relaxed and peaceful, with the baby deer with their big eyes and long eyelashes asking for food adding to the effect further. I know there are negative opinions expressed by some Japanese people against foreign tourists in recent years, particularly toward our Asian neighbors. Some mass media greedily pick them up to make trashy articles, which are purely motivated by sensationalism and commercialism. I have personally heard negative comments echoing such mindless journalism from people I know. Nevertheless, the mingling among Japanese and various foreigner tourists congregating at the Nara Park and its vicinity I witnessed was easy, comfortable and unconcerned, belying the supposed tension between “we” versus “them”.