Deer are strange and funny creatures. In Connecticut, my home state, and the surrounding states, they’re an overpopulated mess running around getting hit all the time. Sometimes they’re a fancy meal at a restaurant when you’re feeling fancy. Other times they make a prefecture famous, such is the case of Nara, Japan. Nara’ s deer park is a magical land where deer and humans co-exist peacefully, roaming around through parks and streets freely as people flock in to pet these fluffs. It’s fantastic, and it’s where I spent my day.
The usual crew, Lizzie, Steph and I, met up at Kyoto Station to Kintetsu it over to the Nara wonderland. You get out of the station and whazam! 10 minutes of walking later and you’ve made it to this strange place where deer are roaming freely, bowing to people in exchange for senbei and crossing the street at the green light with the rest of us. You can just let them as you’re walking along, which I did freely – that is to say, I slow-chased their asses all over the park to pet them, especially the scraggly ones. They were my faves 🙂 I kept darting about while Lizzie and Steph moved on like normal people, keeping us at a nice pace of pursuit. So exciting!!!
We went to two temples today, one before and one after lunch. The first was Todai-ji Temple, which is an absolutely huge structure housing the largest wooden Buddha in the world. It was too big for me to really understand and appreciate size, but I can only be marveled at the fact that such a thing was built at all, never mind hundreds of years ago. There were some other tall, cool statues in there, plus this magical small hole that you can try to crawl through in hopes of the promise of rebirth. Not for us, not today. Lizzie and I got our goshuincho stamped (Steph forgot hers) and headed outside the temple to regroup for food.
Fun thing was that we got side-entertainment in the form of 2 deer butting heads, literally. Clown sacks were locked by their clipped antlers, pushing around the park in front of us like some weird animation cut. The scene was great – a silence fell over our little cut of the park as time went to a standstill for everyone to watch these 2 losers fighting. Then one guy won and the other bolted out of there and into the distance while the rest of us resumed normality. It was wild and made me so happy. Then came lunch, which also made me happy.
Cafe I-lunga was where we ate, and they had some of the best veggie soup I’ve ever had. They even served me croutons in a mini ceramic milk jug plus parmesan, which made it superb. We got to sit on the patio, so while half of our view was just parking lot the other was this gorgeous lookover of the mountains. We all started talking about where we’d want to live in Japan, and it really makes me want to explore the other prefectures. For dessert we went to a store around the corner which has -purin, which I believe Nara is famous for? I mean my green tea pudding was really good, so I’m gonna go ahead and say it is. The pudding came in a really cute glass jar with a souvenir-y lid, so I’m glad to get to bring that home 🙂
After that long and lovely food break we walked over to Kofuku-ji Temple, which we accidentally wandered into for free. Verrry nice. More stampage, some weird modern art at one of it’s baby shrines and not too many people. I dug it. Then we wandered into Nara’s version of Teramachi, where we got omiyage and saw a spiffy-looking owl cafe before leaving. That’s where we split off for a bit, Lizzie and Steph chilling at the station while I headed back to the park for more deer.
When I went back solo there were less people around, which meant more deer for me. Also some selfies, none of which came out great but what the hell, why not? A lot of new friends (whether they know it or not) and a last burst of joy before we boarded our line for Kyoto Station. After so much confusion and wandering around at the station, we ended up at some yummy Japanese bar with a bunch of yummy traditional fried stuff, which was awesome. Definitely should head back !!!
Oh, and there was this guy, Starduck Tony, jamming *out* in front of the station. He played some wild shit and even pose-smiled for me. Bless his ducky heart.