Memoirs of a Gaijin: Nara/Miyajima/Kobe

Another deviation from the usual and you end up in Nara and Kobe.

Kobe? I’ve heard of that place. They got that fancy Kobe Beef stuff. That’s not a ‘hidden gem’.

Technically, it isn’t and it was destroyed in an earthquake many years ago but they have since rebuilt and is a flourishing city with a little bit of everything to offer.

Now what is Nara all about?

It’s a city that is over-run by deer.

Say what? Deer, you say? 

In early Japan, deers were seen as sacred but are now national treasures, engrained with the ‘untouchable’ status.

So the deer runs these streets?

Pretty much. They’re tame deers but quite smart little bastards. If you have these ‘deer crackers’ and you play games, they nudge, tug, chew until you give it up. Quite a sight to see.

Is it a lot of deer or are you exaggerating? 

Well, let’s find out. Here is Nara:

Okay, you weren’t kidding. So they just roam around and look for food? Are they aggressive? 

Not really. They’re just in-your-face when you’re holding food and stuff. Other than that, you can pet them, touch the antlers, etc. First time I was able to do that since Canadian deer tends to run away with the sight of humans. Probably the hunting part is what freaked them out, I don’t know.


I dare you to look at this picture and not go ‘awwee.’

So Nara is just one giant deer park? 

There’s also Todai-ji, or the Eastern Great Temple which houses the world’s largest statue of Daibutsu or Buddha Vairocana:

So how was it experiencing this temple? 

As a practising Catholic, it was a different experience to say the least. I noticed that they were burning incense and whiffing it towards them. Out of respect, I gave a donation and did the same thing:


After that, I burnt myself twice. I think that was a sign from the gods.

Other than that experience, how was Nara in general?

I would recommend Nara to people, especially if you want to experience petting a deer. That was a first for me and well worth the trip. Continuing on with the deer theme, Miyajima is an island near Hiroshima also over-run by deer, but these ones are smarter:

Smarter? How so?

Well, there was this one deer that roamed around the tourists and noticed it getting eerily close to this one guy who had a paper bag. Suddenly, it just bit off the bag and all of his treats came out! They had a feast that day while I had a laugh. HILARIOUS!:


IMG_4676 IMG_4677 IMG_4679


We also saw two guys swim towards the floating torii near Itsukushima shrine:


“Hey Frank, are you sure this is not desecrating the torii?”
“Nah, we’re tourists. We never do anything wrong.”

Awesome, now what about Kobe?

Kobe is another city to visit but only for a day-trip because all the sights are centralized and frankly, I only went there for Kobe beef so everything else was a plus. The big thing that I liked was the Earthquake Museum that was outside the port:

It also hosts Japan’s largest Chinatown (which is ran by the Japanese, figures. In Calgary, Japanese restaurants are primarily ran by the Chinese!) and this awesome store:




Next is Hiroshima.

– Don


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