June 5 (Day 8) Highlights & Instagram

IMG_8760cThis was our first full day in Kyoto. We had planned to do a full-day bike tour, to see a lot of the sights and get a better sense of the city, but we found out on the train on the way here that the tour was cancelled due to bad weather. That was a bummer, and we scrambled to figure out what things we should do today instead.

Here are some highlights, followed by the photos I posted to Instagram that day:

In the morning it was kind of drizzly. We went to nearby Nijo Castle and walked around, both inside the palace and in the incredible garden. That garden – the trees and hills and pond are so intricate and precise. It seems very natural and unnatural at the same time. Otherworldly.

This is also where we were interviewed by a small group of Japanese high school students learning English. I wrote more about that in the post Interactions with Japanese People.

In the afternoon we took a train to Nara, about 30-50 minutes south of Kyoto, by train. There’s a park there that encompasses many lovely shrines and temples, and deer roam freely all through the park because they’re considered divine messengers.

We especially loved Todai-ji Temple, with its giant Buddha. Kasuga-taisha Shrine, with its hundreds of stone lanterns outside, was also incredible even though we got there after it closed.

And of course, we fed nutritionless “deer crackers” (basically rice wafers, it seems) to tons of deer. The deer are really tame and cute, though they can sometimes get rather aggressive in their pursuit of these crackers. They’ll nudge you, chew on your clothes, and one stuck its face right up in my face.

When we got back to Kyoto, I was intensely tired from all of the walking. Jason went to check out an arcade called 3rd Planet that we had spotted in Nijo earlier and I went to a Japanese bath house a block from our inn to soak my tired muscles.

Walking tally: Fitbit says I walked 29k steps today, which is over 12.5 miles. That was kind of insane, and it makes  it a total of over 80 miles of walking for the trip so far.

And here are the photos I posted to Instagram on this day:

Oops, I forgot one, and can’t seem to easily insert an additional image into the mosaic above, so here it is separately:

img_20160605_172424.jpg

Deer camouflaged in the leaves.

And there are a lot more photos from this day in this set on flickr (with photos from June 4th also).

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