Hello loves~ Today’s post will be the start of a new (occasional) series of posts! Similar to the Anime Foods IRL series, I wanted to do a series based on locations and things in Japan that commonly pop up in different series. Not only that, but I also wanted us to talk about our experiences in those locations. I figure every otaku dreams of going to Japan and doing all the things they’ve only seen in series/games before, right? I basically got this idea while reminiscing about my trip and wanting to travel again. With these posts, I hope it can give you some ideas and tips for any travel plans you may have to Japan~
Today’s post will be on Nara Park, or more specifically the famous Nara deer! In this post you’ll get to see some pictures and gifs of my trip from March 2017. But before I get to that, I want to talk about my overall travel background and tips.
-Some background info and tips based on my experience going to Japan-
I’ve only ever visited and explored Japan once. It was always on my bucket list. After years of just being all talk, I finally went in March of 2017. Before that, I had only ever been to Japan for layovers during my trips back to the motherland (Thailand). Sadly, my trip was a short 6 day long trip. Still, I planned and prepared things months in advance (because I was hella excited). My style of travel is more free wandering. I like to walk around and explore. However, it’s smart to plan the big things like which area you’d like to be during this day or that day. Also plan specific attractions and activities you may want to do or see. I don’t make a strict schedule, but I do keep in mind the things I want to do and the areas I plan to be in. Look up train routes. There are several apps and websites that will help you with that. It’ll also give you real time info on the schedules, timing, delays, etc. Knowing Japanese isn’t required, however, some knowledge of basic Japanese is definitely incredibly helpful. English in Japan is pretty limited. From my experience, alot of Japanese people may get the gist of what you’re saying, however, they might not know how to communicate back. I think the strong language barrier definitely makes traveling to Japan a bit intimidating and difficult for people. I also had taken a semester of Japanese in college (I admit I hella slacked though and alot of things got wiped out of my memory), so I knew the basics. Though my knowledge of Japanese mostly came from having listened to Japanese music and watching Japanese movies/dramas/anime for so long (Since the late 90s/early 2000s). Some knowledge of the language is incredibly helpful and will make traveling around Japan much easier. Not to mention people get pretty impressed, and sometimes you get free stuff~ Having a pocket wi-fi device is also incredibly handy as well. I know Kenny had previously made a post with travel tips when he came back from Japan last year [Here]. I’ll probably have a more detailed post about travel tips and things later~
-To Nara We Go-
Nara is somewhat between Kyoto and Osaka. It took me about a 45-50 minute train ride from Kyoto Station to Nara Station. I believe it’s also about a 50 minute train ride away from Osaka (according to Google Maps).
Anyway, Nara is most famous for it’s deer. You’ll basically find deer themed stuff and characters everywhere. You’ll also find actual deer. The deer had been viewed sacred and hella revered. This is due to folklore of one of the gods of the Kasuga Shrine coming on a deer. They held a sacred and divine status. It’s said that killing these sacred deer were capital offenses and were punishable by death. However, they have been stripped of their divine and sacred status after World War II. They now hold national treasure status and are protected because of it. So yeah, respect the deer.
An example of Nara and the Nara deer appearing in anime would be the らき☆すた/Lucky☆Star series.
This is incredibly accurate though….
An example of them appearing in a manga would be the 久住くん、空気読めてますか? /Kuzumi-kun, Kuuki Yometemasu ka?(Kuzumi, Can’t You Read the Atmosphere?) manga series.
Many people go to Nara to visit the Todaiji Temple as well as Nara Park to visit the deer. The deer here are incredibly famous. Although they’re wild animals, they roam freely around Nara.
You can also feed them by buying special shika senbei (deer senbei)for the deer. They’re basically crackers for the deer. You can buy them from vendors there. They sell a little stack for 150 yen, or about $1.50 USD. Other than being well loved and revered in the area, these deer are famous for bowing when being offered the deer senbei. You’ve probably seen the viral videos all over Facebook, YouTube, and the general internet. That’s basically why I wanted to go.
I’m an animal lover, so I was like “YESSSS!! I’m gonna go to Nara to feed and play with the deer! I’m gonna feel like a mother fucking Disney princess!!!~~~” Boy was I wrong haha. I went to Japan for 6 days. I was staying in Kyoto for 2, so I knew I just had to squeeze in a trip to Nara for the deer. We had a packed schedule and plans. Basically I went to Japan on a super secret mission: Operation help plan my best friend’s surprise proposal. Anyway, I had planned a kimono fitting/rental for us girls for the big surprise that day. So the only way to do this was a short early morning trip to Nara, pretend to be a Disney princess, and then rush back to Kyoto. Unfortunately, I was sick and had a fever this day. It still wasn’t going to stop me though. So we went. We played in the park for a bit, but were unable to actually visit Todaiji Temple and explore the rest of Nara. However, when we got there we were so excited because there were deer fucking everywhere. They were so cuuuuuute!!! They looked hella gentle. I bought senbei for us to give to the deer. We were like “YAAAASSSSS!~~ We’re gonna get these cute deer to bow for the senbei, love us, and then play with us!~”
The deer looked hella gentle. They were not. They are wild animals after all. There are signs reminding you so and the different styles of “deer attacks”. You can and will get bit, poked, shoved, kicked, and headbutted.
This isn’t even an attempt at a funny caption. I was legit getting bit at the time.
I got bit and pushed EVERYWHERE. Literally everywhere possible. Hands, arms, elbows, sides, butt, legs, chest…literally everywhere. My sides and butt felt hella sore from the biting.
If you’re holding senbei, you’ll turn around and find a mob of them following or chasing you. Other than little nips here and there, I got head-butted from my sides and behind.
Attack of the deer was real fam.
This is literally me running away from the deer.
We were basically being chased, running around, and screaming. Although, we weren’t the only ones screaming. There were alot of children screaming and running as well. Also watch out for deer poop everywhere. Still, I had fun. I was only sad that my visit had been quite short and I couldn’t explore a bit more. I was literally just there for an hour to play with dear before rushing back to Kyoto. The deer aren’t all crazy. Some of them are pretty chill and will just walk or sit next to you. But if you have a deer senbei, well…good luck. I found them literally trying to dig through my coat pockets haha.
It was a crazy and hectic experience. While it wasn’t the Disney princess experience I thought it would be, I still enjoyed myself. I definitely want to go back and give it another go, as well as to explore more of what Nara has to offer.
As you can see, I was very overwhelmed…
Me with a cute little fawn. I know my cheeks are hella flushed. I had a fever…