Itinerary Planning: Half Day Trip to Nara, Japan

I was almost positive 2017 would be the year I got my shit together to successfully maintain my blog. I had all this content from Japan planned out and was seriously going to dedicate time to publishing at least once a week.

Then, a couple of days before we celebrated our six-year anniversary with a staycation at Beijing's Nuo Hotel, the boyfriend dabbled with the idea of adopting a puppy.

So, the thing about that, is when puppy talk is involved, there is no dabbling with me. You are either in or out. We’re either going to share dog memes all day and forget about our lives or we aren’t. We’re either going to interupt a dog walking with its human for a quick pet or noting at all. We’re either going to plan our outfits around our dog's winter sweaters or call it quits. And holy shit, before he could finish the sentence, “This puppy is looking for a fost-“ I was like “OMG YES WE WILL FOSTER HER.”

So we did.

Her name is Lila, but we usually call her “Lila, no!” 

She's the reason I've got my first grey hair at 27 years young.

After we foster her for a few months, she’ll be flying to her forever home in Germany. Her mom was rescued from a heartless breeding house just outside of Beijing. Lila was born just the day after her mama's rescue.

She’s a greyhound/whippet mix that looks like a lil’ lamb and a lil’ deer had a lil’ baby.

Which brings me to finally sharing photos from my half day trip to Nara, Japan. This is one of those places like that pig beach you see circulating around online and you say to yourself, “I would LOVE to go there.” Well, a year ago or so ago when I heard about the Nara deer park, I told myself I would go, and I did. 

If you read my 3 Week Itinerary for Japan, you saw that what I planned for and what actually went down was significantly different. Fortunately for me, Japan has a reputation of being a great place to visit if you're an animal lover. Between pricy owl cafes with an entrance fee (srsly, you can not just sneak in to take pictures of owls), being home of The Internet's favorite dog, Shiba Inu, and rabbit island, I knew I wanted to have at least two experiences with animals while in Japan. This worked out pretty well with the Nara deer park and the Osaka aquarium. If we lived in a perfect world, I would have also been able to kick it with the snow foxes. Another day another dolla.

Getting to Nara from Osaka was a breeze. You just have to go to Osaka station and take the JR to Nara. It’s also very accessible from Kyoto

Nara, being Japan’s first capital city, actually has way more to offer than just the centralized deer park, so I would recommend a full day trip. But, because I visited a few temples in Kyoto, live in a city with several temples, and have visited even more temples in Vietnam and Thailand, I decided against it. Don’t get me wrong, not all temples are created equal, but there is such a thing as getting templed-out, which is what caused me to go straight for that sweet deer selfie. 

So, much like most creatures of habit, these guys care only about one thing:


Cookies. It was at that time I realized I have a lot more in common with deer than I previously thought. Pay 150 Yen (about $1.5) for a stack and watch ‘em flock. Okay, not even flock, straight up CHARGE towards you.

Most of the pictures you’ll see make the park look serene and majestic — and it is. During the golden hour you can get some great shots that capture what look like sweet, loving deer.


But in reality, these guys are pretty much assholes, and you should be prepared to come w da cookies if you want to get any attention.

This guy! Waiting in line for cookies 

This guy! Waiting in line for cookies 

Once you exit the Nara train station, there is a tourist building right outside with very helpful staff. They'll offer you a tourist map and point you in the direction of the Nara deer park, which is about a 20 minute walk from the station. On the way up there will be lots of places to eat, snack, and buy souvenirs. So come hungry.

The Nara deer park itself is free to get in to, along with views of the five pagoda temple and other shrines along the way. The trip from Kyoto and Osaka are in the $10 range one way, making this half day trip to Nara, Japan almost as cheap as it is cute. 

Of the few countries I've traveled to, it seems people who visit Japan always make a strong effort to return, especially after a visit during cherry blossom season. If I was y'all, I'd hang back until winter, which provided us clear skies, dreamy colors, and less tourists.  

Not to mention, the whole country being a perfect backdrop for couples that travel. I desperately need to step up my mushy lovey photo game.

Have you been to the Nara Deer Park? Know another desert rat like me that wants to snap that selfie with a deer? Leave your thoughts in comments below or share this post with a friend!