Oh my deer! Day trip to Nara

Two sisters from Chicago mentioned Nara to us describing the abundance of deer. That description doesn’t do Nara justice. Based on that chat and a quick read of the guide book, we thought there was a deer park and then a park with temples and shrines. Nope, they are one and the same. The deer are everywhere as they and many shops sell deer cookies for 150 yen. All the other tourist were buying them and feeding the deer, which was a hoot. The deer had strategies for getting fed. Some would go to the kids first looking for food. Another deer had staked out the deer cookie booth.

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The relatively tame deer in Nara Park.

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Deer interaction warnings in Nara.

The other big tourist draw for Nara, once Japan’s capital, is the abundance of temples and shrines, especially one of the largest wooden buildings in Japan, which houses a huge Golden Great Buddha at Tōdai-ji.

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Daibutsu-den. Packed with tourist even in the morning.

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This guy was suppose to cure whatever body part you rubbed on him then rubbed on yourself.

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Buddha hand with Rob for scale.

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The Great Buddha complete with massive flowers.

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Crawling through this hole in the beam is suppose to mean that your assured of enlightenment (and provide a good photo op for your parents). There were to many folks for us to try.

After wandering around the park for awhile, we decided to try some food that would be hard to cook in the van, okonomiyaki. It’s kinda like an egg pancake with cabbage, carrots and other stuff grated in it. Somehow despite the replica food, we both ended up with ones containing noodles, ramen and udon, in addition to the normal stuff. They cook it for you, then deliver it to the hot pan on your table. You use metal spatulas to cut chunks off.

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Kameya OKONOMIYAKI (かめや %0742-22-2434; 9 Tarui-chō; mains ¥ 680-1140; h11am-10pm; E)

We also found our first beer vending while wandering around town looking for a sake tasting (which was sadly underwhelming) . I was surprised it actually took so long for us to see one. There prices weren’t even too terrible.

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Beer vending machine

On the way back to the car, we stopped in a tourist info place and they had a number of activities including paper sumo. I asked and the nice guy working graves us a demo. This might be the Japanese equivalent of paper football.

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Paper sumo anyone?

We also tried on traditional Japanese clothing from the Edo period (pre-kimono). Pic to come. After that, Rob and I called our Nara day complete and headed north toward Kyoto.

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