I’m being cheeky and combining two days here, ssh. With Osaka as our base we did a day trip to Nara (about an hour away on the train). Nara is a little town known for having some unusual residents – deer. By residents I literally mean they wander the street as if they are people. The are mainly located in Nara Park and roam around free and wild as if they were Pokemon. Deer are considered to be messengers of the Gods and here in Nara they have become a symbol of the city. They roam freely and are pretty tame unless agitated. In fact, you can buy special crackers to feed them and most of them will bow before receiving (it is the cutest thing). Obviously some can get aggressive so be cautious and sensible around them if you choose to engage.
From Nara Station everything is walkable and you just follow the main street to the park. Along the way we saw a lot of deer tourist junk and they have truly immersed themselves as the ‘deer town’. For lunch we got a bento box of rice and fried pumpkin – yum yum yum!
The park itself is pretty large and right away you’ll spot the deer mooching off people. There are several warning signs around as you can easily get swept away in the magic of it all and assume they’ll act like perfect Disney characters. In the UK deer run even if you breathe in their direction, here they follow you and it’s like the ultimate petting zoo. A landmark in Nara (which is also in the park) is Todaiji Temple. It houses one of the largest bronze Buddha statues in Japan and is quite a sight to see. If you need a deer break it’s a great place to check out and a recommendation.
That night we went back to Osaka and did the cooking class you can see at the bottom here. Now to be cheeky and go to the next day when we went to Hiroshima. We took a shinkansen and actually stopped off at Miyajima first. Miyajima is a small island a little out of Hiroshima and accessible by ferry (you can use your JR Pass). The main highlight is a giant shrine gate located in the water. Tons of people flocked with us to see it and take selfies galore. The torii gate is the same beautiful vermilion colour like in Kyoto and against the blue water was stunning. On Miyajima there were a lot of shops, little food stalls and tons of people.
The reason I’m combining these days is because I didn’t really document Hiroshima. It was a very overwhelming and somber experience so I felt it would be wrong to stick my camera around. The Peace Memorial Museum is located in the peace park and rubbed me two different ways. Firstly, it’s under construction and seriously needs it. A lot of the exhibits felt very outdated and the animations/videos were on the bad side of retro. However of course it isn’t all about the glitz and presentation, and the story is powerful and moving. I didn’t know too much about the attack prior and it was very insightful. They don’t focus on why or who did it but instead choose to talk more about the people, victims and after effects. Sadly Hiroshima will forever have this cloud over the city, which was very obvious as other than the park there really isn’t anything to do there. We went to Hiroshima Castle (pictured below) but it was closed and supposedly not that interesting on the inside anyway. The memorial park has various statues, the atomic dome and paper cranes as symbols of hope. These are the few photographs I took and I encourage you to read about the bombing.
We stayed the night in Hiroshima at a ryokan (kind of like a bed and breakfast). The next day we took two trains back to Tokyo and stayed there until our flight home. One more post to come and then Japan is all done! If you need to catch up you can see the previous posts here or join the newsletter!