Read Part 1 and Part 2 of our trip here and here.
This was probably our best day in Japan. I had planned a trip to Nara, the ancient capital of Japan, but more importantly home to wild deer that are tame enough to be handfed. In fact, they’re so used to eating rice crackers that the tourists feed them that they don’t bother foraging for food in general. Apparently, the deer are considered sacred and so noone was allowed to hunt them which is why they proliferated in the area.
The train ride to Nara was longer than expected, and then we decided to be smart and walk to the park/temple complex in the blazing heat. Tip for those travelling with kids to Nara in summer: take the bus.
We broke journey at a grassy patch, while the kids entertained themselves with a fallen branch.
But all was forgotten once we got to the temple park and met the deer. The amazing thing about them was that their mouths are so soft. They just suck the food in without their teeth ever making contact.
However, if they think you have food they can get pretty aggressive and crowd you (one grabbed my map out of the netted corner pocket of my bag and ate it to my horror), though they don’t really give chase if you run off and I only saw them nip someone once. They do tend to try to bully kids though, so don’t leave them on their own.
Historical pagoda that we paid scant attention to
Finally dragged ourselves away from the deer in order to walk down the main street of Nara town. The town itself is quite pretty, and I’d have liked to have stayed there and explored.
On the way to the deer park, I had noticed an owl cafe, which is one of those quintessentially Japanese things, a step further than the cat cafes. Mimi loves owls so I had to take them.
Basically, you pay to go in and look at and pet the owls. It’s not really to chat and drink coffee, though you get a drink with entry (we chose cold water because we were so thirsty). I adored all the owls, but on reflection, it is not entirely ethical that they’re in a room, tied down, instead of in trees. This is the problem with me, I get excited about animal stuff, but I need to think more about the ethics of it before rather than after. You can also hold them on your arm and feed a hawk, and the cafe staff are very helpful and knowledgeable about the owls and seem to love them and the owls do have space to retreat if they get bored of people.
We ended our day in Nara with a scrumptious burger at Mcdonald’s. One of the things I’ve noticed is that the quality of meat in Japan, particularly chicken (and of course beef) is of very good quality. McDonald’s in Japan is more expensive than in Hong Kong, but the chicken burger was so so much better!