Today was our last day in Kyoto and we planned to spend most of it in Nara. However, today was the day our plans went to dust a bit. Firstly we got on a bus destined for “Ginkakuji” (silver temple), instead of Kinkakuji (gold temple). Naturally it was the worlds slowest bus as well, and we didn’t realise until rocking up in Higashiyama that we were right where we were the other day.
I wasn’t very popular after this schoolgirl error, especially as we then had another 15-20 minute walk to the subway station, the same enlightening walk we’d already done and knew there was absolutely nothing to see along the way. Whoops!
Once we got there we hopped on a subway to Kita-oji and connected to a bus to the temple. This was relatively straight forward thankfully, but meant it was almost 1pm when we arrived. It wasn’t as busy as I expected though, and the sunlight was reflecting off the temple. It was worth the small mission it became to get there.
This was definitely my favourite temple and the most spectacular one to look at. I can see why it’s so popular, the gardens and grounds in general are a lot nicer than most of the other temples too.
We explored for a while, trying to strike a balance between giving the temple justice without rushing, but also ensuring we had enough time to finish the rest of our plans. On our way out, we decided it would be fun to get our fortunes from the little machines. Typically Chris’ was excellent and mine was average at best, which is usually the way things go! It was past lunchtime now and we decided to just nip into one of the nearby cafes as we didn’t have much time to be picky.
The restaurant was a bright yellow colour and only had a few dishes, mostly curry or omelette rice. As this was also on our “must try” list, I had the omelette rice with curry and Chris went for the one with a tomato sauce. Both were pretty good! I could only manage three quarters of mine, so naturally Chris sorted out the rest. For the tidy sum of £12 we had both of those along with two fruit juices, bargain!
After swiftly paying, we crossed the road and there was a bus waiting ready to take us back to Koda-iji subway station, before catching a subway train to Takeda. I couldn’t see a train to Nara for a while, partly because it was a Sunday service and partly because it was now gone 2pm. Once we got to Takeda it became apparent we would have to figure out another change or wait for 45 minutes for the express service to Nara.
Annoyingly an express train came beaming past that we might have been able to catch if we’d stayed at the previous station! We had a 15 minute wait and caught a train to somewhere else, picking up some ice creams from a vending machine on the way, before getting off and waiting for the final train to Nara.
An older Japanese lady who didn’t speak a word of English managed to gesture (whilst explaining in Japanese which went above our heads!) that we could get a faster train if we got off at the next stop. It took her practically picking me up at the stop and trying to get me off for us to understand! It’s always interesting once away from the bustle of the city the encounters you have with locals when you can’t communicate! She went out of her way to help us which I’m not sure would be the same if the situation was reversed in the UK.
By the time we finally arrived in Nara it was just after 4:30pm, which was far from ideal! We took a swift stroll along the shopping street, where there were lots of interesting looking shops and restaurants, but we had to keep powering on so we would get plenty of time with the deer before the sun began to set. We took a shortcut past a pagoda and found the main park the deer congregate in.
I wasn’t expecting to be scared of the deer, but for some reason I was mildly terrified! I could imagine them chomping on my fingers or pecking at my arms! Chris was straight in there with his Go Pro going video crazy, I stood back trying to be calm and collected whilst I surveyed the scene. I just couldn’t believe how many of them there were! They kept beaming up to me which didn’t help the situation. The first few times I would run and cause a bit of a scene, but as they seemed to enjoy this I started learning to walk away slowly.
I don’t know why I became such a wimp, everyone else was sitting with them, feeding them and posing for pictures with them. I like to think I’m usually an adrenaline junkie and not a scaredy cat so I even surprised myself, it must be the wild animal phobia thing – that and the fact some of them were e-nor-mous!
Chris decided to get some deer crackers and subsequently attracted about ten deer who were stalking him around. I didn’t feel brave enough to have a go at feeding! We stayed a while and spotted a couple of baby deer too – these were cuter and less intimidating! We also witnessed a troublesome accident prone deer send some peoples bicycles crashing to the ground, which was quite hilarious, thankfully they missed the small child that was nearby when it happened!
Before long the sun was setting and it was getting darker, so we strolled back towards the station. The streets were now lit up and looked pretty, and I wished we had a bit more time there to explore. After the fiasco with the trains earlier on, we decided to wait for the express one which was far more pleasant and also almost empty. This made sense as everyone else probably had far better luck with their planning and had left already.
At the station we needed to pick up our “World Heritage Pass”, so it made sense to have dinner around there and maybe do some shopping. In theme with the rest of the day, this didn’t exactly go to plan either and we ended up grabbing burgers from Lotteria in desperation as they were closing and nothing else around appealed. We took these to go as it seemed this day was doomed and felt it best we recuperate back at the room.
By the time we got back the chips were a little cold, but the burger tasted pretty good – as far as fast food goes, and better than McDonald’s. We munched it down with the TV in the background and attempted to pack our things away ready for our early wake up and adventures to Koyasan.