Nara – And then the greatest thing ever happened

From Takayama we took the train 1000 km south to the southern city of Fukuoka. The intention was to use Fukuoka as a base and do a few day trips around Kyushu (the southern Japanese island) and to Hiroshima. Well, that didn’t happen. First Kat got sick (sick enough that we were researching hospitals, but fortunately she got better), then I got sick. So we spent 3 days holed up in a miserable businessman hotel in an 8×12 foot room. It wasn’t super awesome, but such is life on the road sometimes. We were happy to lave Fukuoka and hopped on the Shinkansen up to Osaka.

We’ll write more in a future post about Osaka and Kyoto, but I had to write a very quick post about a day trip we took from Osaka to a small town called Nara. Nara has some interesting temples and is home to Japan’s largest Buddha (which is housed, coincidentally, in the world’s largest wooden building). That stuff’s all great and all, but that’s not what makes Nara a place of interest. The reason that you should go to Nara is that in Nara you can do this:

We didn't talk about the time that I went deer hunting in West Virginia. Not that I'm hiding it, it just didn't come up in conversation is all...

We didn’t talk about the time that I went deer hunting in West Virginia. Not that I’m hiding it, it just didn’t come up in conversation is all…

This is not a petting zoo. In Nara, domesticated deer just walk around the whole town, wandering into traffic, terrorizing children and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Something I did not realize about deer: they SMELL. Pretty much like horses. All over the town are people selling special deer biscuits that you can buy and feed to the deer. This being Japan, the deer actually BOW TO YOU to get you to give them biscuits.

Respect

You want to get respect, you gotta give respect

So, we thought, oh this will be cute. We’ll buy some biscuits for the deer and feed them. So we paid our 150 yen (about $1.50) and Kat went to go feed the deer. And then this happened:

 

"ohhh, aren't you guys CUTE?! Ok, let me give you a biscuit!"

“ohhh, aren’t you guys CUTE?! Ok, let me give you a biscuit!”

"Heh heh, ok, guys. One at a time, now. Don't push."

“Heh heh, ok, guys. One at a time, now. Don’t push.”

"GUYS, SERIOUSLY, STOP. BEHAVE YOURSELVES OR NO ONE GETS BISCUITS!"

“GUYS, SERIOUSLY, STOP. Behave yourselves or no one gets biscuits!”

"RULES EXIST TO KEEP US SAFE! DID YOU JUST BITE ME, YOU LITTLE BASTARD?!"

“RULES EXIST TO KEEP US SAFE! OW! DID YOU JUST BITE ME, YOU LITTLE BASTARD?!”

"JESUS. FINE. HERE. TAKE YOUR BISCUITS. I'M DONE WITH YOU ASSHOLES."

“JESUS. FINE. HERE. TAKE YOUR BISCUITS. I’M DONE WITH YOU ASSHOLES.”

While the deer were assaulting Kat, I was off on the side gleefully snapping pictures. It was the greatest thing ever. I was laughing hysterically. Kat didn’t find it so funny. “They were BITING ME and you were LAUGHING,” she kept saying. I continued to think it was hilarious until this sumbitch tried to eat my green tea soft-serve:

Look here, Bambi, you try to steal my ice cream again and you'll end up with your mom, NAMASAYIN'?!

Look here, Bambi, you try to steal my ice cream again and you’ll end up with your mom, NAMASAYIN’?!

That’s when things got serious. Kat and I decided that we’d both had enough of this novelty and it was time to get on the train and escape back to the deer-free safety of Osaka.

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2 responses to “Nara – And then the greatest thing ever happened

  1. There’s a technique to feeding the deer in Nara. It takes two people.

    What you do is have one stand behind the other at the sembei stall. The person in front buys the sembei and immediately passes them underarm to the person behind, who stuffs them straight into a bag or pocket, out of sight.

    You both walk away from the sembei stand, hands up and clearly open. “Look! No sembei!”

    When you’re away from the stand you’ll find the calmer deer who are happy to accept sembei but don’t assume you’re packin’ 😀

  2. Pingback: Sayonara, muchachos! | Banh Mi and You

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