15 Dec 2016 : This is the day the kids (well as parents we still call them kids no matter how old they are) most look forward to as they get to “play” with free roaming deer at Nara Park.
We set off early from Shingu for the 200 Km journey from Shingu to Kyoto via Nara. Although the distance does not seem long, the roads through the mountainous region between Wakayama and Mie perfecture are narrow and winding. Google Maps showed 4 hours 13 mins but it took us more than 7 hours including an extended stop at Nara Park and photo stops along the way.
Traffic was very light around this area so we could slow to a crawl to soak in the breathtaking scenery of valleys and gorges along miles of lush greenery. Looks like a scaled down version of The Alps.
We were last at Nara Park 3 years ago. They boys had a lot of fun so we decided on a return visit. Unlike other wildlife parks feeding is encouraged here. There are street vendors selling special crackers (shika senbei) for deer at ¥150 a pack.
Deer have been roaming the park at Nara for over a thousand years. They are very friendly and look forward to their deer feed. Some are more “pushy” if they don’t get fed fast enough. In true Japanese tradition, they inherit the courtesy of bowing too!
One of Japan’s most historically and culturally significant places of worship also happens to be in Nara. Also known as world’s largest wooden building Todaiji Temple is awe-inspiring even from a distance. We were running late with still more than an hour’s drive ahead of us. So we just took a shot of the Nandaimon Gate outside the temple before heading off to Kyoto.
Kyoto Here We Come, Again
We were here last year for 3 days. Not enough, as any Kyoto-phile will tell you. So we’re back again for another 3 days to soak in more of the historic city.
We booked a 3-story apartment from Homeaway 4 months ahead because we needed one with a car park which is hard to come by in Kyoto. Fortunately we found an apartment at Sujakushōkaichō in the vicinity of Kyoto Station with a private lot. Total for 5 people for 3 nights came to SGD621 (USD443) inclusive of all fees.
Day 1: Nagoya to Ise-Shima
Day 2: Exploring Ise-Shima and Ago Bay
Day 3: Scenic Drive From Shima to Shingu
Day 4: Paying Homage to the Historic Shrines of Kumano
Day 6: Exploring Arashiyama and Ancient Kyoto
Also read my tips on driving in Japan.