Even though we are just one week into the new semester there was a long weekend and 3 day holiday from Monday-Wednesday. I'm not sure what the holiday was for, but I was happy to have extra time to myself and the opportunity to squeeze in a day trip to Nara. My buddy Victo and I were feeling ambitious so we biked from the dorms to the station (about an hour though mostly downhill) and then we hopped on a train! In about 40 minutes and only spending 690 yen ($7.50 each way) we arrived in Nara and walked up towards the temples. Nara is famous for its sacred deer so there are lots of fabulous deer souvenirs everywhere! Here's a poster with a deer and the Sento-kun the Nara mascot. Sento-kun is a Buddhist child monk with a rack of deer antler's sprouting from his head, this is supposed to relate to both Nara's rich Buddhist history and the "wild" deer that live in Nara.
Souvenirs and gifts ranged from stuffed animals, socks, deer headbands, cell phone charms, puppets and most importantly cookies to feed the deer. Do you see the stuffed Stitch in a deersuit? Amazing right?
We finally made our way from the city up to the park. It was very crowded, probably because it was a holiday. The deer were free to roam the park, but many of them seemed to lurk behind the fences. This gave the deer a chance to get away from the crowds. The deer are considered wild animals but in truth are very tame. I didn't see any children get bitten by the deer at all. However, I saw some children chasing and throwing cookies at the deer. Here's a little girl with a female deer. Is it me or do the deer look a little different from the ones we have in the States?
It was pretty hot out (mid 80's) so most of the deer were pretty subdued sitting in the shade and some were hanging out in small ponds trying to cool down. This deer spotted a boy with a cookie for him.
The deer weren't much smarter than my two Labradors. This one walked around with a cookie on his butt for at least 5 minutes. I also noticed that the deers horns were clipped or cut off the male deer; maybe to prevent them from fighting or mauling visitors. This deer must be a young male because he still has his horns.
A lot of the deer seemed very tired and no matter where they chose to sit they were constantly being visited by small Japanese children bearing cookies they wanted to feed the deer.