After we got over the  disappointment that the Imperial Palace was closed, we changed our plans and decided to spend the day in Nara. Nara is a very old city: it was the capital of Japan before Kyoto. It's about an hour train ride from Kyoto as long as your train doesn't stop and discharge you halfway to Nara at Joyo like ours did. (There is no joy in Joyo...)

Upon arriving at Nara, there was a fun sign directing us to the major attractions.

We walked down this busy little street in Nara. Although the shops were open, a lot of people were out on the streets celebrating the New Year.
We saw this cute store named after my brother's dog.
We saw dozens of wreaths like this, with an orange in them,  hung on doors in Nara and Kyoto.
This was fun: two guys pounding away with sledgehammers at some green glop in a barrel. My friend Toshi said it was probably a rice dough with some herbs in it.
There were many vendors selling food in stands to the people out on the streets. Octopus is apparently a popular street food in Japan as we saw many such booths.
Two adorable girls on the train ride home from Nara.