On the Saturday, we spent our time in the rainy vicinity of Kyoto. On Sunday morning, we decided to brave the [now torrential] rain, and take a trip down south, to Nara. Unfortunately, what is supposed to be a 45 minute journey ended up being almost 2 hours due to the weather. It was almost like being in the UK! No matter. By the time we arrived the rain had almost stopped, and we set off walking around this peaceful city.
Nara is famously full of deer. They're wild, but very docile. Some even bow for the tourists (they expect some food for their efforts). Unfortunately, there were too many rowdy tourists to enjoy the area near the main temple, Toudaiji. People were shouting, posing strangely with the animals, and generally acting in a manner which I did not think was fitting for the scene.
After we'd seen the impressive Toudaiji, we saw in which direction the crowds were headed, and turned 180° and started walking. I'm very glad we did. We could finally relax, as there were almost no people up in the hills, though we did "meet" one Chinese tourist group.
The rain made everything feel extremely lush, as if anyone caught taking a quiet nap would be consumed by the vegetation. Moss covered almost everything, which was really quite beautiful.
We walked from the temples in the north of Nara, around to the eastern edge. At this point, we were elated when the sun split two clouds overhead and we were greeted with our first proper shadow of the day. I ran down to get a photo of this bucket, as it was the closest object at the time. The sun then disappeared, after just a few seconds.
I mentioned the deer. Well, up in the hills they don't seem to pester the (few) tourists, and generally go about their business. This made for an all-round nicer experience, more in keeping with the deer we saw in Miyajima. Unlike the deer in Miyajima (click to see them), these ones had little white 'bambi' spots (which may mean they were fawns, but I couldn't tell you for sure). We did see a few fawns, though. And they were too cute for words!
The journey back to Kyoto wasn't anywhere near as bad as the outward journey. We took a different train line, and made a B-line straight for a shrine I really wanted to take a photo of. It's rather famous. It has thousands upon thousands of bright red Tori gates ascending high into the mountain. I'd envisioned getting there around magic hour, but there basically wasn't one. By the time we got there, it was pitch black, but still quite beautiful. Another benefit of visiting a bit later, was that we were the only people there at this time, and so could take our time and really relax on our final night.
Well, that concludes our weekend trip to the Kinki Region of Japan. I hope you've enjoyed the photo-journal, even though it's a little photo-heavy. If you have any comments or questions, I'd love to hear them.
I recommend a journey to Kyoto and Nara. I think that even if the weather is pretty atrocious, it's possible to have a great time and even the rain doesn't detract from the beauty to be found in this historic area of Japan. See you next time!