Having started the #blogeverydayofjune challenge, I set myself another challenge by trying to change the header image for my blog. It’s a picture of the sacred deer in Nara, Japan. Here’s another photo I like… Wayne and deer at Todaiji temple.
We visited Nara on both our recent trips to Japan. It’s an easy side trip from Kyoto, and the second time we stopped off on a day trip between Kyoto and Osaka. It’s faster and cheaper to take the private Kintetsu railway, but on our second trip we had JR passes so took the slower JR train. Much slower it turned out, because we couldn’t find the express and sat on a little local train as it trundled through rice fields and suburbs. At one little station another train pulled alongside and, practising reading the kanji on the destination board, I thought it might be the express so we dashed across and got on. I spent the rest of the trip hoping and praying we were still going to Nara… and luckily we were.
There are over a thousand sacred deer who roam the parklands and temples in central Nara. Dotted around the parks and temples are food stands selling souvenirs and snacks like dumplings and grilled corn and sweet potato, and there are also lots of little stalls where old ladies will sell you packs of shikasenbei – special rice crackers to feed to the deer.
Our Kyoto landlady told us that, being Japanese, the deer will come up to you and bow, and they do! They love the rice crackers, but it seems that they will eat practically anything. When we ran out of crackers one deer came up, bowed, then ripped apart the paper shopping bag Wayne was carrying and ate that.