Monday, August 31, 2015

Miyajima deer are not timid deer

shadow deer

Our destination after Kyoto was Hiroshima. Although we only had one night / two half days to spend there, we decided to head to the nearby island of Miyajima for the afternoon as soon as we arrived in Hiroshima.

Itsukushima shrine gate

Miyajima is known as a very beautiful place and a holy place - the whole island is considered sacred and in Shinto is actually considered to be the body of God.

gate & water


There certainly was beauty and serenity to be found there.




Also, deer again! And if we thought the Nara deer were pretty tame, those on Miyajima were cheeky and even potentially aggressive.

Deer feeding

Obviously, if you have food for them, they crowd in.

Deer food

They're completely comfortable mingling really closely with the humans.

not shy deer

I was standing, talking with Mum, when I felt something tugging on my bag. My sister was quick with the camera and caught this deer in the act, stealing my MAP!

deer thief

As I moved my hand to the outer pocket of the bag, the deer pulled away, munching on half of the map. You can just see the last of it disappearing in the deer's mouth, in the photo below. I managed to keep the other half of the map. I think it makes a memorable souvenir. At this point Mum mentioned she had seen a warning somewhere that the deer like to eat paper. I guess they probably shouldn't, though.

deer munching map

This deer must have really liked that half-map. The cheeky bugger followed me along the street. I was starting to wonder if this deer was going to tail me for my whole visit on the island, and I was getting a bit I did a rapid u-turn and was relieved to find it had taken an interest in someone else.

The one in the photo below was just hanging out, not too close to people, minding its own business. Suddenly a stupid person came past and slapped it on the hindquarters. It sprang towards us in shock, but luckily calmed down quickly.


It was a hot dry day and many of the deer made a speciality of lying around, posing majestically.

casual deer


So the deer gave us a bit of entertainment and were lovely to photograph, but even apart from them, the island itself was well worth the visit. It's quite hilly and as soon as we started to climb up away from the hot dusty shore there was lots of peaceful and green spaces. My sister and I couldn't resist a taking our shoes off and sitting by a stream with our feet in the cool water. I'm pretty sure that was not really the done thing and we did get a few amused looks from people crossing the nearby bridge. Although there were many tourists dressed casually in shorts and other summer gear, we also saw many Japanese people dressed reasonably formally, like it was a Sunday stroll to church. I hope we didn't seriously offend with our feet in the water.

resting in Toyokuni Shrine

And there was this place. I loved spending time in the massive hall of Toyokuni shrine, an incredibly calm and soothing space to take some time to rest. Right behind it was a flashy five-storey pagoda: but I found this building much more compelling.

Toyokuni shrine, Miyajima

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Off to Nara to see the deer


Our last Kyoto day was earmarked for a daytrip to Canberra's sister city, Nara. That was about all I knew about Nara, but my sister told me the main draw was a large park with lots of deer, and that sounded pretty good.

deer sculpture

We arrived late in the morning and pretty soon we were ready for lunch, so the first stop was the tiny okonomiyaki place. Then we headed a few blocks off the main tourist trail to try to find the Nara Craft Museum on our way to the park. We got a bit confused. I think we had one of those maps that only shows main streets, not smaller lanes. But the wandering was all made worthwhile when we came across a definitely not tourist-oriented, genuinely cheap op (thrift) shop where everything seemed to be about 100yen. We did find the craft museum after that, and with it our first two deer (above) for the day.


I think we took the longest possible walking route to get into the park. But it was worth it when we got there. It rained lightly on and off all day, but it wasn't cold, and we had a fun time exploring the large and very beautiful park, and admiring the many deer.

P6110748 park deer

There were heaps of deer everywhere and they are obviously used to being in close proximity to humans.

deer road

Plenty of deer poo on the paths, too.

deer poo

I can see why people fall so in love, aesthetically, with Japan. Even the drains are beautiful, or at least pleasingly arranged.

pretty drain

And below, one of the fanciest manhole covers I saw - not in the park but back in town - features one of Nara's pretty deer.

Nara deer design




stripe deer


Due to our 'long way round' approach to Nara Park, we only came across this warning about deer dangers on our way out. I'm plesaed to report we made it all the way through the park without experiencing Bite, Kick, Butt, or Knock down. I decided that kangaroos are more scary.

deer warning