Nara, Japan #travelthursdays

Spending time reflecting on trips to the British Museum with it’s Japanese Gallery, the beautiful Netsuke and the glorious art of tea drinking, has me homesick for Japan, and in particular our memories of Nara.

It is a lovely historical oasis. Serenity, respect and beauty are the words that come to mind.

These Sika deer were lovely. They eat out of your hand (this one I especially loved – he had worked out that he should stand by the cart selling the deer food discs. Smart beastie) then they bow to you. They were regarded as sacred messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion. 

According to local folklore, deer from this area were considered sacred due to a visit from one of the four gods of Kasuga Shrine, Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto. He was said to have been invited from Kashima, Ibaraki, and appeared on Mt. Mikasa-yama riding a white deer. From that point, the deer were considered divine and sacred by both Kasuga Shrine and Kōfuku-ji. Killing one of these sacred deer was a capital offense punishable by death up until 1637, the last recorded date of a breach of that law.

After World War II, the deer were officially stripped of their sacred/divine status, and were instead designated as National Treasures and are protected as such. (Cheers Wikipedia!)

By the end of the day we were drinking sake in a local stand up sake bar (they are called tachinomis) surrounded by locals who spoke no English whatsoever and some of the tastiest food we had whilst in Japan. That memory alone epitomises travelling for me.

What travel destination can’t you get out of your head?

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