Indiana Jones and the Temple of Deer

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You can see more photos from other places in the Japan category of this blog, and also read about the trip in the zine I wrote.

Our final stop in Japan before flying home from Osaka was Nara. In the 700s it was the capital of Japan, at the time when Buddhism really became established in Japan. Nowadays as well as Buddhism, it’s known for the tame deer who live in the forest park surrounding the temples and shrines. We stayed in a hostel in the forest. It seemed a short walk from the train station, but we ended up walking along dark forest paths dragging cases seemingly forever, with deer staring at us accusingly like something out of Princess Mononoke. (The hostel turned out to be a pretty weird place too).


The next day we went exploring the forest and temples. After the dry Mediterranean climate of the Sanyo coast, Nara felt very damp and rainy, with moss growing on everything. Apparently it’s the rainiest place in Japan.

I didn’t find any four-leafed ones

We went deeper into the forest to avoid a really obnoxious busload of tourists from Mainland China, who were constantly yelling, spitting and barging people out of the way.

I didn’t hear this. Did it happen?

These stone lanterns line a lot of the paths

There are miles and miles of these.

The deer are just as friendly as the Okunoshima rabbits, but much more alarming as they are large and bitey. Luckily few of them had full antlers.

Here is a sign warning you that they steal old ladies’ purses and push small children over, and are bad bad deer. I saw one make a little girl cry.

You can buy bags of food for them. The stalls keep them locked up in these safes.

Feed me human.

Where is our food?

Yes, continue this, human

I wonder if deer will eat moss. I know reindeer eat lichen.

The forest is not short of moss.

This guy bit me and tried to wrestle a bag of food off me, and was not sorry in the slightest.

Future biter.

This guy was very proud of his antlers.

But threw a tantrum and head-butted us when the food stopped being forthcoming. You always think of deer as being these elegant, timid creatures, but this lot remind me more of stroppy goats and llamas at petting zoos.

The fluffiest of bums.

I don’t know what this deer did, but it must have been bad.

This is my street, and I can crap in it if I want to. The cars had to stop for the deer to do its business too.


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