What’s more exciting than getting up close with monkeys in Japan? Packs and packs of wild deer!
Nara Park was a 30 minute train ride from Kyoto. A short walk from the station and we arrived to a beautiful expansive park.
Lots and lots of deer.
The deer were way more conditioned to humans than the monkeys were. They knew this area was the source of snacks (rice crackers we could buy to feed them). If you’re holding a treat, they’ll bow for you. After you run out of food, they will follow you. They will check your pockets. They will open your bags to search. Once you quickly walk far enough away they will give up and follow someone else.
We walked through the park to get to Kasuga-taisha Shrine
Being a bit templed out, we made our way back to the train station to head to Osaka. When planning this trip, I debated making Osaka an overnight stay but logistically, if you’re going to travel even farther south, it makes more sense to have either Osaka or Kyoto be your main hub and make day trips because they’re only 25 minutes apart and it’s less luggage transporting.
So, off to Osaka! Skoped out the castle
Afterwards, we made our way to Tower Knives to pick up a Japanese knife for ourselves and some souvenirs for family. Rather than buying in Kyoto as originally planned, we sought out Tower Knives in Osaka because they stocked knives crafted in Osaka, as well as other international brands. Their reviews are spectacular and well-justified. The staff spent over an hour with us, guiding us in our selection, explaining the differences and narrowing down the choices that would meet our use, and then educating us on how to sharpen our new tool. Then, we got the knives engraved, etched by hand. If you’re ever in Osaka – we highly recommend!
We spent the rest of the evening taking in Dotonbori – the main avenue of bright lights and restaurants along the canal. And, we found a great bar to catch up on some gaming.
As we made a mad dash to catch the train back to Osaka, we made our first, huge ‘I’m an ignorant tourist mistake’. We hopped on a train at a platform marked in pink. We were met with stares, which was not that unusual. But this felt different. I looked around more. Then looked at the icons on the wall, and looked around again. I said to Jon ‘Holy shit, we are on the female only car! We shouldn’t be here!’ He had never even heard of it and didn’t know what I was talking about, but Japan trains have female only cars (which should be respected even more so at night!) for safety. As I panicked in shame, a couple next to us admitted to realizing the same thing at the same moment. We commiserated in our embarrassment as we got to know each other for the remainder of the train ride back, and tried to huddle a bit closer to be as unassuming as possible.
Next up, our final day in Kyoto.