Sunday, June 7, 2015

Deer Prudence

Sunday was a beautiful day for sightseeing so we took advantage of it and made the trip to Nara. We took a subway from our hotel to the Kyoto Station and the searched for the train to Nara. Kyoto station is ginormous, accommodating subway, busses, trains from several railways as well as the bullet trains. It took us a bit to find the right location for our train to Nara. On the other hand we are becoming quite adept at getting around on the public transportation system. Once we found our train we had about a 20 minute wait so Elliott and I enjoyed an iced cappuccino from a cafe next to the platform.

Train to Nara
Once we arrived in Nara it was about a mile walk to Nara park. Nara park contains the huge Todaiji temple, the Kasuga Shinto shrine, and the famous bowing deer. You can buy cracker to feed the deer, and if you hold the crackers high in your hand, the deer will bow until you give it to them. We found some of the deer to be a little aggressive. While I was buying crackers at a stand nearby a deer came up behind me and grabbed the street map that was folded and sticking out of my back pocket. I whirled and grabbed the other end and played tug o war with the deer a few seconds before he released it. We had fun feeding the deer but it was a little unnerving when several would surround you.
Bowing deer

We toured the Todaiji temple that houses the world's largest statue of Buddha as well as some smaller yet huge guardians. It's astonishing to consider building such a large wooden structure without modern  construction techniques. As we were exiting the temple a friendly Japanese man offered to take our picture using our camera. We agreed and then reciprocated by photographing his family with their camera. They were very friendly and struck up a conversation in English. Elliott had an opportunity to demonstrate his Japanese and they were very impressed.
After Todaiji we walked to the Kasuga Shinto shrine which is famous for the hundreds of lanterns that line its pathways. It was another uphill walk. Our legs are getting quite strong.
Kasuga lanterns
We finished touring Nara and returned by train to Kyoto. While still at Kyoto station we transferred to the train for Fushimi Inari where we tried to go yesterday. Fushimi Inari shrine is a Shinto shrine on mount Inari. It is famous for thousands of Torii gates that form tunnels over the pathways. You can follow the paths all the way to the top of mount Inari but it's about a 3 hour round trip so we opted to go partway up and then turn back. 
Torii tunnel
We finished up the day with a train + subway ride back to the hotel and an early dinner. Elliot and I both enjoyed the Kobe steak burger and Janet had a margherita pizza. Monday's weather is looking wet so we will plan accordingly. 

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