Nara (formerly Heiju-kyu) is a beautiful, green city that is famous for being the habitat of many deer which roam around the grounds freely. According to legend they are viewed as sacred animals that were originally introduced to the land by a mythological god named Takemikazuchto. Their purpose was to guard the city from danger thousands of years ago. Nara also has a wide range of accessible gardens, shrines and historical temples, so it’s well worth a visit if your interested in getting a true taste of Japan’s cultural heritage. Before you even reach where the deer are, there are many pleasant little shops that line the nearby streets. We stumbled across a farmer’s shop that sold the largest apples I have ever seen! There was also a place selling fresh mochi where you can see it being made in front of you and it was delicious! It contained fresh, grounded red beans, so there’s no need to feel guilty for treating yourself! There were also numerous stalls selling fresh takoyaki, which is a fried ball of savoury batter filled with chopped octopus and topped off with the same sauces we had with the Okonomiyaki.
The first picture in this post is probably my favourite from the entire trip. It’s almost as if the deer is looking through the day’s pictures with my cousin. The deer in Nara are known for being incredibly friendly and are used to the constant flow of visitors. When you present the deer with a cracker, it will politely bow its head before accepting the offer. Obviously, I wanted to see if this was true, so with each deer encountered I held a cracker out and just as Mrs Katsui had told me, the deer did indeed bow. Nara is quite a sleepy little town, if I had to live in Japan I’d be very content living there.