Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew to Tokyo on Sunday for crucial summit talks with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe after an overnight stay in Kyoto where he visited two ancient Buddhist temples with the latter accompanying him in a significant gesture.
During his hectic schedule in Kyoto on the second day of his five-day visit to Japan, Modi also sought Japan's help to fight the deadly sickle cell anemia commonly found among tribals in India during his visit to a stem cell research facility at the Kyoto University and got a positive response.
Sixty-three-year-old Modi and 59-year-old Abe, who share cordial relations and hit it off well during their interaction in the ancient city of Kyoto, will have a substantive summit agenda.
Cooperation in the fields of defence, civil nuclear, infrastructure development and rare earth materials is expected to top the agenda with Modi hoping that his visit will "write a new chapter" in bilateral ties and take the strategic and global partnership to a higher level.
Some agreements, including in defence and civil nuclear sectors, are expected to be signed. Among the agreements to be signed is one on joint production of rare earth materials.
At the banquet at the Imperial Guest House in Kyoto on Sunday night, the two premiers spoke about a "strong and robust future" for bilateral ties, with Modi hoping that the two sides would strive to achieve in five years the unrealised potential of five decades.
Clad in all-white kurta pyjama, sleeveless jacket and white sandals, Modi paid obeisance at the two prominent Buddhist temples in Kyoto --Toji and Kinkakuji -- offering prayers and mingling with the common people and tourists. He first went to Toji Temple, which is inspired by the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh of Hindu philosophy.
Modi was at the temple complex for about half-an-hour during which he enquired about the history of the eighth-century Buddhist pagoda.
While leaving the complex, Modi thanked Abe for accompanying him to the temple and spending time with him.
Abe, on his part, told Modi that this was only the second time that he had visited Toji temple, the last being during his student days.
In Kinkaku-ji, Modi mingled with tourists and visitors, shook hands, playfully pulled ears of a child and posed for photographs with groups of people.
Lauding Japan's deep historical ties with India, Abe said he was looking forward to the summit meeting with Modi after they spent time together visiting Buddhist temples on the Indian leader's first leg of his trip.
Abe had specially come to Kyoto from Tokyo to meet Modib and be with him. The Japanese Prime Minister rarely greets a foreign leader outside the national capital.
Image: PM Modi arrives in Tokyo on Sunday. Photograph: MEA/Facebook