Friday morning about 9:45am, we set off from our AirBnB and discovered a place called Cafe Green Door in a residential area, just a couple blocks from our home, which was a nice change from the previous days’ meats on a stick for breakfast. We had eggs and coffee to go as we walked to the station and boarded a train for Nara, where we’d scheduled an AirBnB experience involving a bike tour of Nara park, where the deer are plentiful and friendly (and will bow to you for crackers), and Todaiji Temple, the largest wooden structure in the world. The sky was overcast, but the rain held off during our bike tour of the city.
I’m not as obese as the Tokyo Swallows baseball jersey makes me look.
Along the way, our guide provided the group (consisting of our family, a couple from Minnesota, and a girl from Australia) with a picnic sushi lunch along a river before we continued onward toward Nara park. When we arrived and parked our bikes, a group of schoolchildren were singing outside the temple. We walked inside and saw this:
In my head, giant Buddha statues are in every park, mall, and street corner in Japan, but this was actually the first one we’d seen in 10 days. It’s the largest bronze statute of Buddha in Japan (15 meters tall). The temple housing it was built in 752, when the capital of Japan was Nara.
We explored the multiple temples of Nara before spending time with its wildlife, the famous Nara deer.
Below is a deer cracker (or cookie?). Our guide gave us each a stack of them, and the deer either smell or see them immediately, and they run up for snacks.
Nara is as known for its deer as its wooden temple and giant Buddha; even the plastic construction markers (where we have orange cones in the U.S.) are deer. They’re everywhere. Hopefully, they’re tick and Lyme disease-free!
Our tour ended, but not before Hiro took a selfie with him, as we gave him some of our Georgia jam as a “thank you” gift just as it started to rain.
After our tour, we took the train to Kyoto Station and the Kyoto Railway Museum. The children loved exploring the insides and undersides of Shinkansen bullet trains, steam trains, and everything in between on the multiple levels of exhibits (plus the ones on the turntable outside) there.
We had delicious ramen for dinner at Menya Iroha in Kyoto station, and then we did something I’d wanted to do ever since getting to Japan: karaoke.
We’d looked online to find a place that seemed family-friendly and conveniently located; we chose Jankara by Kyoto Station. The children had never done karaoke before, and I worried they might be shy or hesitant to try it, but by the time I’d gotten to our room (after a quick stop for a draft beer), the girls were belting out “Let it Go” from “Frozen.”
There was Bon Jovi, Wham!, A-ha, Adele, Queen, Journey, and many other artists chosen, and before we knew it, our time was gone, and we were paying for an extra half hour and were way past the kids’ bedtime but were having too much fun to care.
I thought going to the whisky bar was my favorite evening activity in Kyoto. No longer.
We walked out of the karaoke bar and by a dancing fountain light show before heading to bed after 10pm.
Another magical day and evening in Japan was finished; the next day, we were slated to explore Osaka, a new city!