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Going to Tokyo for the first time, we expected to see a lot of weird stuff. You know, violent and messed up shit—like freaky tentacle porn, cute/scary schoolgirls wielding Katana swords, and 70-years of pent-up sexual/violent frustration from not having an army.
I was even thinking of bringing a splash-guard along, just in case GoGo from Kill Bill showed up and decided to bludgeon someone’s skull open.
But as it turns out, we saw none of that. So when we went to Nara, our next city, we let our guard down. While we were all relaxed, wandering around Nara park, admiring the perfectly manicured grass and the perfectly trimmed cherry trees…
That’s when THEY struck.
Who are they?
Well, let me tell you about the “cuddly” bowing deer of Nara.
Oh did I say cuddly?
I meant murderous.
Because as I quickly found out, beneath all that soft, cuddly fur and those innocent beady little eyes, lies…
YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE.
Let me explain. When we first walked into the park, the guides told to buy some deer cookies. Apparently, these are specially trained “bowing” deer. First you bow, then you wait for the deer to bow back, and then you reward them with a cookie.
I tested this out. As soon as I had the treat in my hands, a cute little deer wandered over, cocking his playful, fury head. I bowed, just as the guides instructed, and low and behold, he actually bowed back!
“Look, hon! He’s bowing!” I told Wanderer, giggling like an idiot. I fed the fawn the cookie and stepped back in awe as he chewed, his beady little eyes fixed on me.
That’s when I decided to buy an ENTIRE stack of deer cookies.
I had barely handed over the money when the sound of trotting hooves filled the air. I spun around. A dozen wide, crazed eyes stared at me, as I found myself surrounded by an entire herd of deer.
Antlers colliding, they advanced on me from all sides. One nearly bit my finger off, trying to snatch the cookies out of my hand. Another, annoyed that I hadn’t fed him first, chomped down on my side, hard enough to tear my dress.
As it turns out, holding a stack of deer crackers in the middle of Nara Park is like being covered with blood inside a shark tank!
So of course I did the sensible thing, which is to throw the stack of cookies at the deer who tried to bite my finger off, and ran away screaming.
Nah, just kidding. That’s not how I roll. Instead, I smacked one of them, yelled at another, and then threatened to kick a third on in the head.
Here’s video proof.
Anyway, long story short, Wanderer’s banning me from going back to Nara. Says it has to do with my “verbal assault of innocent wild animals”. Yeah, whatever. That was totally in SELF-DEFENCE.
Deers are jerks.
Luckily, the next wild animal encounter we had in Japan was MUCH more relaxing.
Prior to coming to Japan, I had heard about a phenomenon called “Owl Cafes”—a place where you can go to enjoy a nice cup of coffee and pet a bunch of owls. So if you’re a big Harry Potter fan like me and have always wanted your very own Hedwig you’d understand why I immediately needed to find one. And find one we did—in Osaka.
Humming the theme from the movies, I entered the café, expecting to find a row of Hedwigs waiting for us in cages.
What we actually found was a waiting room with a tiny owl, no bigger than my fist, perched on a table in the middle of the room. Rotating his head around, he stared at us curiously, while the server told us to wait.
15 mins later, the previous group exited with big smiles plastered on their faces, and we were told to go in.
Adorableness greeted us from all sides as I marvelled at it all. Owls of all shapes and sizes filled the room. Snowy white ones. Speckled brown ones. Some with massive bright yellow eyes. Others with tiny beady black eyes. Some stared at us curiously, while others couldn’t care less and were fast asleep.
They were quickly awoken, though, by my hysterical giggling. One of the guides had just placed a miniature owl into my hand and it was staring up at me, blinking its bright yellow eyes. I quickly melted into a puddle as it cooed and closed its eyes, while I gently stroked its head.
Our guide then showed us how to hold the bigger owls on our forearms, taking pictures for us as we petted all the owls within an inch of their lives.
Wanderer even found a new BFF!
I guess what I learned from this experience is that owls are the best animals ever and deer are assholes who will murder you for a cookie.
Thankfully, there were no deer to be found in Kyoto, our next city. There were, however, lots and lots of bamboo forest and majestic Tori gates:
Oh and sushi. Lots and lots of sushi. Even though we ate out all the time, we didn’t break the bank because not only were cheap sushi conveyor belt restaurants widely available, every train station had affordable ramen places. And everything is done cheaply ($5-6 CAD) and efficiently with vending machines. You just put in your money, press the button next to the noodle you want, and out comes a slip of paper. You bring it to the serving window and voila, a delicious, perfectly textured bowl of Ramen comes out. So even though I couldn’t speak a word of Japanese, it didn’t matter because everything is automated and printed with pictures. Even to this day, I haven’t been able to find truly authentic and delicious ramen for such a low price outside of Japan.
Here’s how much we spent in Nara, Osaka, and Kyoto:
|Category||Cost in CAD/couple||Notes|
|Accommodations:||$57/night||Of the cities we stayed in Japan, Kyoto was the most expensive at $64 CAD/night. Osaka was the cheapest at $49/night. One thing that's very interesting is despite how surprisingly low the cost of accommodations were, we never had to share a bathroom or kitchen and we ALWAYS had laundry. I think this speaks to the ingenuity of the Japanese. No matter how limited the space, they still managed to figure out a way to make a self-contained apartment that's cheap, efficient, and full of conveniences and luxuries. If they ever build up an army, we are all DOOMED.|
|Food:||$45/day||$30 for eating out, $15 for groceries. Thank you Japan for your ridiculously cheap and good vending machine restaurants!|
|Transportation:||$28/day||This includes the $108 CAD for plane tickets from Tokyo to Osaka on Peach airlines and the subway cost to get around.|
|Entertainment:||$5||There were so many free attractions in Kyoto and Osaka (like mountain hiking and parks), we hardly had to spent any money on entertainment. Entrance to attractions were also very cheap and usually less than $6 and the owl cafe was $15 each for 1 hour.|
Can you see why I can’t wait to go back to Japan?
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19 thoughts on “Let’s Go Exploring! Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara: I Get Attacked!”
Freaking hilarious recap of your trip. Shared it with my coworkers who also got a good laugh. See… I would have thrown the cookies and ran like a baby. haha.
That’s what I SHOULD’VE done. Stupid, scary-ass, sharp-toothed deer. They gave me a hell of a bruise…
Bowmanville had a petting zoo. Buy a bag of hard lumpy biscuits and you could feed ’em to almost all of the animals. Llamas, baby goats, the elephant, all kinds of animals. But no owls.
Now I need to go to Japan for the owls.
The owls are something special. They actually close their eyes and coo when when you gently pet their heads. Definitely go to Japan!
Ever since we moved to our small island we have deer in our yard almost every day. They don’t bow but they also don’t bite. We have been warned to stay away from the male deer during rutting season though. We feed them apples and carrots. There is a really small baby deer who is the size of our cat – so cute! Haven’t seen any owls yet but a lot of bald eagles and hawks. We have an ocean view and we see seagulls riding logs like little rafts when we look out with our binoculars. We’ve been told we’ll be able to see whales from our living room window during the summer.
Wow! Sounds like a great place to live. I’ve never seen a baby deer that small! I wonder if the mother gets freaked out if you get too close to it.
Yeah I saw the baby deer again today and the mom was ushering it through the yards pretty quickly. I went out and tried to feed it but they’d already crossed over into the neighbor’s property and the mom looked back with some interest when I tried to throw some apple chunks to her but then she kept going the other way. There are so many predatory birds around here that she’s probably really scared a huge eagle is going to swoop down and steal her baby. A lot of the other deer will just lay in our yard and hang out but whenever we see the mom and baby they are always on the move.
Haha! Yep, I know those little Nara deer bastards well. One of them bit me in the crotch once. Seriously… my crotch looks NOTHING like a cookie. The little bastard just did it out of spite (or impatience with my feeding speed).
Generally, the deer only bother people that feed them (tourists).
Cars do take-out many of the little buggers every year, so you know Nara residents eventually get their revenge…
Despite all that, Nara is a *great* town to visit, as are Osaka and Kyoto.
You didn’t even mention the takoyaki (a local street food)! Don’t worry, I wouldn’t have been offended!
Ouch. Crotch bite! That’s WAY worse. Yeesh. The park guides should be handing out cups from now on…
Totally had the same experience in Nara and also this zoo in Kuala Lumpur! For the zoo, I began to wonder if the zookeepers might have starved those deer, considering how ferocious they were!
Yeah, forget bears and wolves…deer are the real spawn of satan.
When things go not nearly as well as planned, it makes for the best stories! Oh deer! haha
That’s true! I may have been bruised all over but at least I got a good story out of it 🙂
Too funny. I love how you reprimand the deer like like a naughty child. He seemed to enjoy testing his boundaries. I wonder how many people just dropped the cookies and ran after the first bite.. you hung in there like a champ. I would have pulled a Caesar Milan dog whisperer move on them… SHHT!
Apparently yelling at a deer doesn’t make it do what you want? Who knew. Next time I’m just to throw stuff at them and run.
Yes! A thousand times yes! People are always shocked when I tell them that Japan is a cheap, clean, and stress-free place to visit. You should see the cost of housing there. Super cheap, especially compared to Canada.
It’s like Asia for beginners.
Just curious, where and how do you book accommodations? Hotel sites, like Expedia or Air B&B or ….
For Japan and Europe, we use AirBnb. For South East Asia we book hotels on booking.com or Agoda.
If you’re a first time user of AirBnb, you can get a $50CAD ($40USD) credit here: htps://www.airbnb.ca/c/kshen90.
For booking.com, you can click here to get a $25CAD ($19 USD) first time credit: https://www.booking.com/s/2bb00594.
I talk about how we use Agoda here: https://www.millennial-revolution.com/freedom/cost-travelling-world-1-year-part-3-accommodations-transportation/
Late to the party, but hey, we just got back from France today.
I made the mistake of carrying around an ice cream cone in Nara. That was… hilarious. I didn’t know about the bowing part, though!