Japan – The Biting Deer Of Nara

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Sunday, 1 May 2016.

I am currently sitting on a highway bus, heading to Nara City, in the Nara prefecture, situated next to Osaka and Kyoto. I was in Nagoya for the past three days, exploring the big city’s unique cultural treasures, following my stay in Shizuoka.

Back in Shizuoka, I ended up finding the tomb of Tokugawa Ieyasu, along with a fellow traveller from America that I had met at my hostel. We finally found the shrine after having cycled past the entrance initially, riding along the coastal cycling road. We had arrived at the shrine as it was closing, having ascended the winding 1000 steps to the top, but were fortunate to have the keepers of the shrine allow us entrance to have a quick look around and pay our respects to the long-dead shogun. Later, I read online that Tokugawa Ieyasu’s son had actually moved the remains of his father to another shrine in Nikko, further north in the Tochigi prefecture. That was for another time then. We cycled well over 20kms that day, with a not too pleasant bicycle seat to boot.

The Golden Week started two days ago, which is a week long holiday in Japan, and it is evident in the slow-moving traffic we are sitting in now. Everyone goes somewhere else during this time, with a lot of people heading towards Kyoto or Osaka, and the road to somewhere else happens to be the road I am on. The benefit of taking a train now becomes apparent, albeit at a more expensive rate, but nothing beats the view and seeing the landscape, as it passes by you at a slower pace, from a different perspective.

Nara, to where I am going now, is a prefecture known for its forested parks, animals, and rolling green mountains, a wildlife sanctuary among the endless cities of Japan. One of these animals is a deer, of an unknown name as of yet, which according to the tales I heard in Nagoya, roams the streets of Nara and has a tendency of biting people. Back in South Africa, I have been around a few baboons in the wild myself and they also tend to be on the aggressive side when near humans, but never have I been bitten before, luckily, I would probably lose a limb or worse. I shall have to meet said deer and see if all they really want is a little kiss on the nose or a big hug. It is, after all, hard to show affection when you have no arms or hands and only teeth getting in the way of a kiss.

– Starr