Nara Deer Park

When planning our trip to Japan, I realized that there were several great cities near Kyoto that I also wanted to see. Packing up and switching hotels becomes really time consuming, so side trips are a great option when possible.

My rule of thumb is:

  • Can you get there in no more than 2-3 hours? (Remember that it’ll take that long to get back, so anything further than that is just too far.)
  • Can you see that place in just 1 day?

If you answered “yes” to both questions, then it definitely warrants a side trip.

I love side trips, because it allows you to see the main sites in an additional place that you wouldn’t have visited otherwise. I’m a big proponent of seeing as much as you possibly can in a short time. I usually focus on the best of the best and leave the rest for another time. If you fall in love with a place, you can always plan a trip back in the future.

In our case, there were 3 places that we wanted to see, and they met the criteria for a side trip: Nara, Hiroshima and Miyajima. (Hiroshima and Miyajima will be in the next blog post.)



On our third day in Kyoto, we had a break in the middle of the day, so we jumped on the train and headed to Nara for a super quick visit. The train ride is only 45 minutes, so you can visit Nara rather quickly, if need be. We were on a tight time constraint, but I got to feed the deer, which was my priority. Although, I do wish we had a few more hours to really see the city and all of the beautiful temples.



Nara is famous for its deer park, which has over 1,200 deer roaming freely. When you arrive, street vendors sell you deer crackers for a couple of dollars. As soon as the deer notice that you have food in your hands, they come right up to you. I refused to leave Japan without going to feed the deer and I’m so glad that I did it.





For the most part the deer are docile, but I was lucky enough to get the aggressive one. Yea, lucky me! I’m being completely stereotypical assuming it was a HE. He would fight with the others and he even bit me… TWICE! First he bit me on the tummy, hoping that I would drop the food, and later he bit me on the butt so I would turn around to feed him. I think he learned that people drop the food if he bites them… Smart guy! Luckily, they don’t have sharp teeth. It felt more like a pinch. He never broke my skin, but the bite on my tummy did leave a bruise for about a week. I think he wanted to make sure I wouldn’t forget him, and I certainly haven’t.

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After about an hour with the deer, it was time to rush back to Kyoto for our sake tour. Read all about our Kyoto adventure here: 4 Days in Kyoto

The next day we visited Hiroshima and Miyajima, so check back soon for the rest of our Japanese adventure.

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