I'm writing this from the 12th Meeting on Mathematics of Language, on the morning of September 7. Wireless bandwidth is poor here, and there are only 8 IP addresses shared between me and all other delegates, so I am writing offline and then uploading so as to tie up one of those addresses for as short a time as possible.
Last entry ended a bit suddenly because I hadn't been paying close attention to the time, and so I was surprised by the shinkansen's arrival in Kyoto. I thought I made the connection to the train from there to Nara pretty well, but it turned out that the train I was on, although it was the Nara line, did not actually go as far as Nara. It went out of service at Jouyou. So I had to wait there for the next train, which would take me the rest of the way. At least waiting at the station gave me the chance to take a few more photos of infrastructure.
At Nara station, I was greeting by this improbable figure.
At a glance, it seems to be a Buddhist/Wiccan syncretic deity, the Horned Buddha.
As I've subsequently found out, it is actually an "official mascot character" for the 1300th anniversary of Nara, named Sento-kun. Sento-kun is supposed to be a personification of the nature energy of Nara and its famous Buddhist temple. So, in other words, he actually is pretty much a Buddhist/Wiccan syncretic deity.
There are just a few remaining photos in the September 5 gallery, and they were taken at the Hotel Sunroute Nara, where I'm staying. It was easy to find from the railway station - I had no trouble following the route I'd planned in Google Street View. This hotel is much as I expected of a Japanese hotel, complete with the very small room and the "hand in your room key at the front desk when you go out" procedure. That last is a little worrying because they don't seem to do anything to verify my identity when I come back and ask for the key in the evening. Asking for my ID would be rude, I think is the theory... but it means any white man could wander into my room just by knowing its number.
The hotel toilet has a bidet attachment like the one in Shinjuku, but with much less interesting icons on the control buttons. Last photo from Monday is of a grape beverage purchased in the Jouyou station. It has blobs in it.