While I was in Kyoto, I decided that I wanted to take a day trip to Nara, as I had heard about their famous “Deer Park”. Knowing next to nothing about it before going, I hopped on a JR Line train that took me about an hour south of Kyoto.
Turns out that there aren’t just deer in one spot. There are deer absolutely everywhere.
People and deer milling about near a temple gate
They roam the streets and the sidewalks with the people and the cars, and have absolutely no fear of the things most wildlife would. You can buy official deer “crackers” from various pop-up vendors around town, and the deer are eager to gobble them down. So much so that they will nip at your clothes if they think you have some and aren’t feeding them!
Feeding the deer their official “crackers”
After some fun with the deer and nearly getting my fingers bitten off, I decided to check out one of the most famous temples in the region, Todai-ji Temple. It’s known for its giant Buddha statue, one of the largest in the world in fact. The temple was fairly crowded, but absolutely worth the money and the time.
The giant Buddha of Todai-ji Temple
Interestingly, I had read on TripAdvisor about another temple, very close by to Todai-ji, with almost nobody around it and with beautiful views of the landscape. So I decided to check it out. Going by the name of Nigatsu-do Temple, it was about 10 minutes up a hill from Todai-ji, and it lived up to what I had read about it. Away from the crowds, and an incredible view of the surrounding countryside.
Gazing out over the countryside from Nigatsu-do Temple
Overall, the trip didn’t take more than 4 or 5 hours, but it was absolutely worth the time and money spent to get down to this region of Japan from Kyoto. I ended up going back to Kyoto for the night, but this was just before I left for my final Japanese destination, Osaka!
Want more? Check out an overview of my Japan trip here!