Nara, the capital of Nara Prefecture, is 35-45min by train from Kyoto city. Last December, I popped over for a half-day trip, for the sake of deer, of course.
There are a lot of deer roaming freely.
Nara Park topped the list of my to-go place for my trip. There are almost 1,200 deer in Nara. A distinct feature of Nara, these deer are considered to be messengers of the gods. Prior to arriving, I’d imagined cute, tame deer cuddling up to us humans and hanging out casually as what social media portrays.
Not too far a walk up from the station, I started to see deer along the pavement and got all excited.
You may purchase deer crackers from these stalls to feed the deer.
Being a tourist in this age, I had to do what everyone does:
Take a selfie with a deer.
The deer are always watching you.
Although they look like endearing creatures, these deer are semi-wild animals and they can get rather aggressive if they think you have food for them. I bought some deer crackers and they followed me closely. In my haste, I stuffed some crackers into my jacket pocket and a deer was knock-nudging me at my pocket from behind as I walked away quickly. Very soon, I finished distributing the crackers and dismissed all ideas of purchasing a second packet. I don’t wanna get head-butted by a deer!
You can’t tell from static pictures, but now and then, there’ll be random shrieking from terrified humans around Nara Park. It was actually quite hilarious!
Todai-Ji Temple (東大寺)
Nara is also home to plenty of temples and shrines. Todai-ji Temple (東大寺, Tōdaiji, “Great Eastern Temple”) is the most popular one in Nara. Constructed in 752AD, its main hall – the Daibutsuden (Big Buddha Hall) – is the largest wooden building in the world. The current one is actually a reconstruction and at merely 2/3rd of the original temple hall’s size, yet it is already a magnificent sight. Inside the hall, there’s a gigantic bronze statue of Buddha (Daibutsu). At 15m tall, this is one of Japan’s largest. You can peep through the side gate like the above, or pay an entrance fee to enter the grounds. I entered for photos, prayers and to purchase some Japanese amulets.
More deer as you walk to or leave the temple grounds.
As I wanted to go back to Kyoto city to hop over to Gion for a chance to see geishas (and I did saw! Post about geisha-spotting here), I left Nara by mid-afternoon.
Have you been to Nara before? How was your experience like?
Feel free to share with me in a comment!