I watched Chad get bucked by a deer in the park in Nara, Japan. He bought some crackers to feed the deer and right away around five new friends came up to him and started harassing him. These Nara deer are not nice like the monkeys in Kyoto, these deer are aggressive and there is one in particular that is really attacking Chad. Soon enough, I feel a deer buck on my leg from behind me! Chad throws the crackers on the ground and starts to run away. We make an escape and cross the street into the other side of the park.
I knew Nara Park was known for it’s deer population, but my expectations were wildly wrong. I thought there would be a few deer, that the park would be small, we’d see a decent sized Buddha statue and it would be a few hours of exploring and then back to the train. That was not the case. This park is filled to the brim with deer. They are at the temples, on the sides of the roads, under trees, in the planters, crossing streets, peaking through shinto shrines. They are nothing like the deer in the US, who are skittish and fast, running away at the site of any movement. These deer are ruthless, they’ll come up close to you, look you up and down with doe eyes, and then move onward when you don’t produce a snack fast enough. They are not in it for the pets, they are there for the food.
Then there is the actual park, a beautiful Buddhist temple with shinto shrines throughout. We explored Tōdai-ji, Kōfuku-ji, and Kasuga Shrine. Toda-ji is the largest wooden building in the world. We make our way through crowds of deer to the temple, and we are offered a free English tour which is great because I really need context for these temples and shrines that we’re seeing. I felt skeptical though because earlier I was approached by a Jehovah’s Witness outside the temple and for some reason I thought there was some sort of catch to our free English tour. Nope, no catch, just Japanese people being the nicest as per usual. We entered the temple and wow, big buddha was beautiful. So far it’s been my favorite temple/shrine experience, and man have there been a lot. The areas to explore seem never ending, and Chad wants to see everything you can possibly see.
It was a full day experience, and by the end we really needed air conditioning. It reached 100 degrees and I became a devil from overheating. We got iced smoothies and sat in air conditioning before catching the train home.
The one question I have is - where are the squirrels? (Mo but actually, there have been no squirrel sightings yet in Japan and I usually like to compare squirrels when I go to new countries.. does Japan have squirrels 🐿 😂 ?)