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A Day in Nara: Deer and Sake

Our second day-trip out of Osaka was to Nara, an ancient capital city known for its historical temples and a large, tranquil park. A day in Nara was a lot more relaxing than a day in Kyoto, and everything is within walking distance. As soon as we got off the train we headed east towards the park in search of the deer that Nara is famed for. Over 1,200 wild sika deer freely roam Nara Park (about five square kilometers in area). Killing one of these sacred deer was a capital offense punishable by death until 1637 and the deer are currently designated as national treasures. As we walked up towards Kofuku-ji, we spotted our first group of deer, followed by many, many more! Continue reading

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A Day of Temples and Shrines in Kyoto

Kyoto, one of Japan’s most famous tourist destinations, was at the top of our list for places to visit in Japan.  Everyone who has visited Kyoto will tell you that the city deserves more than a single day. And while that is true, when we looked at booking accommodation in Kyoto, we were out of luck. We looked about a month in advance (thinking we were getting ahead of the game) and booking.com was almost 100% sold out! We managed to find a few hotels and upscale guesthouse but nothing for under $100 CAD a night, which was way over our budget. I guess we should have expected inflated prices and full occupancy given we were travelling in the busiest time of year – cherry blossom season. When we found a private room in Osaka, a 30 minute train away, for only $40 CAD a night we really couldn’t justify the stay in Kyoto. And that’s how we ended up with one day to see and explore as much of Kyoto as possible. Continue reading