We took the 45 minute rapid train from Kyoto to Nara for a few hours in Nara-koen (Nara Park), which has some lovely temples, including the impressive UNESCO World Heritage listed Todai-ji, but honestly, it’s mostly about the deer when you’re travelling with two ten-year-olds.
The cash for deer crackers (200 yen per pack sold by vendors throughout the park – the only thing visitors should feed them) was money well-spent.
The deer in Nara are held sacred, viewed as spiritual messengers even from pre-Buddhist times, and today as National Treasures, a status which enables them to roam freely around the park. They’re wild, but are accustomed to humans, and many have been trained to bow before receiving their snacks.
Watch the vids – they’re adorable! (Though they’re also hungry and rather demanding, so look out for the ones nipping at your jacket or trying to get into your pockets.) This post is mostly pictures and videos of the kids with the deer.
I love how Blake bowed too.
The gates to Todai-ji were impressive, as was the temple itself, with origins dating back to 728.
The Daibutsu-den (Great Buddha Hall) houses a 16m statue of Buddha, and is the largest wooden building in the world.
Unfortunately, we’d spent all our cash on deer crackers, and with no ATM in sight, we couldn’t affort the 500 yen entry to Daibutsu-den to see the Great Buddha. We did take the stairs up to Nigatsu-do, a sub-temple of Todai-ji, for a sweeping view of town.
The kids met some more deer on the walk to Kasuga Taisha, Nara’s largest Shinto shrine. As with our visit to Fushimi Inari on New Year’s Day the day before, it was crowded with New Year’s worshippers, so we skipped around it and focused on the deer.
The five-storey pagoda of Kofuku-ji temple is Japan’s second tallest and dates back to 1426.
Fun on the train back to Kyoto – reward for a day with a lot of steps!