Oh deer. Nara.
Last time we were in Kyoto, I got sick and Niaal went to Nara without me. NOT THIS TIME, BUDDY. We spent New Year’s Eve afternoon in Nara, roughly a 40-minute JRail train ride out of Kyoto. From the station, it’s a moderate walk down a long, shop-lined street towards the national park.
You know you’re about there when you reach a small lake, surrounded by built-up stuff like houses and walls and a clock. Unable to read the signs, we nicknamed it “Turtle Lake”, because apparently there are heaps of turtles when the weather is warmer. Not yesterday, though. We saw just this one guy sunning on a rock as we approached.
This lake is kind of the first significant landmark you see in the general park area. As you continue walking, you reach the Kokufuji Temple grounds.
It’s quite marvellous being close to giant things.
Kokufuji is within the park, just ahead of the main deer zone. The fun started when we saw this guy getting some sun and wetting himself under a tree.
Ah, authentic deer wet patch.
A short walk down from the temple is where lots of deer happens.
I can confirm that deer aren’t the loving, gentle, fawning creatures you get in fairytales and Disney movies. They are not exactly violent, but you’ll find them grumpy, belligerent, stubborn and rather business-like. They’re just not interested unless you’ve paid 150 yen for a deer biscuits at one of the many biscuit huts throughout the park.
The big big temple attraction here is the Todaiji Temple, which got so powerful in its time that the country’s capital had to move to somewhere else to reduce the temple’s influence on government.
Everything was big. Big statues, big structures, big crowds. The only small things were trinkets sold at the many souvenir stalls.
As we left, we enjoyed a few quiet moments with some deer by the stream.
On the way back to the station is Tabi-ji, a little shop selling tabi ninja shoes! Some are really cute, some are super stylish, some are more durable for harder walking, running and martial arts.
All in all, a nice afternoon out. It gets bloody cold as the day wears on – colder than Tokyo even though it was the warmest day we’ve had in Japan so far. Must be because there’s fewer tall buildings and city features to keep the heat in. If you go out to Nara in cooler weather, rug the fuck up.