Belle Michelle
Michelle feeding the deer in Nara Park

Japan: Kyoto – Nara & Kyoto Imperial Palace

Here is the second part of our trip to Kyoto, Japan! You may want to read the first post beforehand or, you may not! We got to meet some bowing deer and have a tour around Kyoto Imperial Palace…

Nara

We took a day trip on the train from Kyoto to Nara, which is Japan’s first permanent capital, so obviously it has a lot of history. Just before leaving for our holiday, we had caught a BBC documentary on Japan which mentioned Nara and its famous ‘bowing deer’, so we had to go over and have a look!

Lo and behold, when we arrived at Nara park, lots of deer! The warning sign is quite funny too 🙂

Deer at Nara Park

Apart from deer, Nara Park is also full of historical buildings which are part of the Kōfuku-ji (a Buddhist temple). The temple comprises the Eastern Golden Hall (Tō-kondō) and five-story pagoda (Gojū-no-tō)

Deer at Nara Park Eastern Golden Hall in Nara Park Eastern Golden Hall and five-storied pagoda in Nara Park

…the Southern Octagonal Hall (Nan’endō), which I think is a beautiful building…

Southern Octagonal Hall in Nara Park Southern Octagonal Hall in Nara Park

…and smaller three-story pagoda (Sanjū-no-tō).

Three-storied pagoda in Nara Park

The highlight though, I must say, were the deer. You could buy deer biscuits from stalls around the park, and if you bow to them, they will bow back for a biscuit. Other people around us didn’t seem to be aware of this, then they started copying us 🙂

Michelle feeding the deer in Nara Park

Heading back to Kyoto, we came across these guys at Nara train station. I had no idea what was going on at the time, but after passing the text through a translator after the fact, found out that the banner they are holding says “Welcome to Nara” – which makes perfect sense!

Characters holding up "Welcome to Nara" sign at train station

Kyoto Imperial Palace

On another day during our Kyoto visit, we set out to visit the Imperial Palace, but what we didn’t realise is that we needed to book a tour in advance. We had arrived too late in the day to get on the last tour, so had to come back the next day (so if you’re planning on going, don’t repeat our mistake!). Oh, and you’ll need to take your passport!

The palace is set in the Imperial Palace Gardens, which I thought would be a huge lush green open park, but in actual fact is mostly made up of really long gravel paths and tall walls blocking the palace from view.

On arriving at our designated timeslot and being a little intimidated by the stern-looking guards on the gate, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were actually really polite and friendly and welcomed us inside for our tour.

Entrance to Kyoto Imperial Palace

I’ll just leave the photos of our tour here, and won’t try to educate any further 😉 If you’re interested in reading up on the Kyoto Imperial Palace, I would suggest perhaps reading the Wikipedia article. It is, however, a stunning collection of buildings and gardens. Also, the day we went was very hot (which was awesome)!

Shodaibunoma at the Kyoto Imperial Palace Jomeimon gate at the Kyoto Imperial Palace Shinmikurumayose at the Kyoto Imperial Palace Jomeimon gate at the Kyoto Imperial Palace Shishin-den seen through seen through Jomeimon at the Kyoto Imperial Palace Shunko-den at the Kyoto Imperial Palace Roof of Seiryo-den at the Kyoto Imperial Palace Seiryo-den at the Kyoto Imperial Palace Sides of buildings and raked gravel at the Kyoto Imperial Palace Bridge and pond in the Kyoto Imperial Palace gardens Pond in the Kyoto Imperial Palace gardens Bridge in the Kyoto Imperial Palace gardens
  • MadJon

    Very cool! Tell me though, how did u pass the sign through a translator? Have u got some swanky pic to txt jobber?

    • You can download Google Translate for your phone and pass an image through it – it’s very clever!