Oh, Deer! And Buddhas! Adventures in Japan

deer adventures in japan
Written by Terry Gardner

Terry Gardner takes us on a photo journey of her trip through Japan.

adventures in japan terry gardneraNewDomain — If travel is supposed to teach you new things and open your eyes, my recent adventures in Japan were a rousing success.

My lessons about Japanese cuisine began almost immediately.

I wanted to eat a Japanese breakfast so our fabulous English-speaking tour guide, Izumi Satoi, helped me select dishes.

I thought I should begin with sushi, but I didn’t realize you don’t always eat what is wrapped around the sushi. I bit into a persimmon leaf wrapper and I’m thinking, How do I tell her the fish tastes wonderful but this leaf tastes awful? So I covered my mouth while trying to swallow and whispered,  “Am I supposed to eat the leaf?”

“No!” Izumi said. “It’s wrapped in the leaf to preserve it. You only eat what’s inside.” Lesson learned. adventures in japan terry gardner eating sushi 1adventures in japan terry gardner eating breakfast sushi 2

Deer, deer everywhere

I had heard Nara Park was filled with deer living around various temples and shrines. But I’m used to barely glimpsing deer.

Never had I seen so many.

adventures in japan terry gardner nara park

As we approached the first temple, I only saw a few deer and they seemed more timid, like western deer. Yes, the photographic evidence shows I stalked a few, anxious to make friends.

Since June is the beginning of the rainy season in Japan, it began drizzling and we were glad we had carried umbrellas. (Perhaps my umbrella was the turn-off?)

adventures in japan terry gardner nara park 2
adventures in japan terry gardner nara park 3

But the rain let up as we headed toward Nara’s grandest shrine with the world’s largest Buddha.

By the time we had walked through some of the town to reach the Todai-ji Temple with its Daibutsuden Hall that houses the Great Buddha, deer seemed oblivious to our group. They were chilling on lawns and were only interested in us if we had food.

Wow, what a big Buddha!
adventures in japan terry gardner Todai-ji Temple Great Buddha

adventures in japan terry gardner I was surprised that the Great Buddha at Todai-ji Temple is actually adorned with the beatific face of many other Buddhas. He is protected by fierce-looking warrior statues. And he is the largest Buddha statue in the world. But on a rainy day, it is challenging to take a selfie with him.

We didn’t pay the approximately $500 cost to get closer to the platform of the Buddha and have a special lecture from a Buddhist monk. But the statue is spectacular.
adventures in japan terry gardner Todai-ji Temple Great Buddha

I was sorry it was a rainy day because sunshine would have helped me snap better pictures. Each little ornament on his adorned head is supposed to be the size of a baseball.

Deer, deer, everywhere II

After we left the Todai-ji Temple, Izumi gave us crackers to feed the deer. Suddenly they were swarming like hungry bees.

adventures in japan terry gardner deer

adventures in japan terry gardner two deer

Never before have I been swarmed by deer, but I would gladly do it again. Next time, I’ll be keeping a better eye on my backside because a few deer tried to nibble my ample rump.

adventures in japan terry gardner deer feeding

For aNewDomain, I’m .

All images: Terry Gardner.