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If you thought you’ve had your fair share of wild animal encounters with stray cats and dogs and the trip to the zoo, you are horribly wrong because there are wild deer in Japan! Bambi, as we imagine is gentle and undeniably cute. So naturally we had zero precautions when meeting the real deal at their home in Nara Park. We came across a sign that said beware of head-butts, kicking, and keep your children safe but we laughed and thought nothing of it. Surely enough 10 minutes in we witnessed the headbutting, the pushing, the food snatching. We saw screaming children running away with food in their hand and the deer pounding after them (okay maybe not pounding but definitely following the tears). We also witnessed a near deer-car-crash and were shellshocked but traffic resumed as if it happens on a day-to-day basis. It was of course an amazing sight, seeing hundreds of deer roam around and pick on people. It’s worth the short trip out from Kyoto and an easy pitstop for a night on the way to Osaka. Enjoy!IMG_9790IMG_9791-2IMG_9825-2IMG_9826IMG_9827IMG_9828IMG_9829IMG_9835IMG_9836IMG_9869IMG_9870-2

Tip 8: If you are unsure about the train fare, purchase the cheapest ticket and pay the difference at your final stop with a fare adjustment machine. This will save a lot of time spent staring at the JR map and money too.

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There are an insane amount of museums in Japan, not just the art and science type but cup noodles, beer, and animations museums galore. The Ghibli Museum (pronounced Jee-blee) essentially showcases the life of Miyazki and beautiful presentations of his and his team’s work. Photography is not allowed inside, which makes it even more fun and magical as you’re not preoccupied with getting snaps and also would not have seen the exhibits online anywhere prior.

The tickets are only available 3 months ahead of time. They sell out very quickly so try your best to book them with your local reseller early. We bought ours via a friend in Japan and picked up at a Lawsons with the Loppi machine (Loppi doesn’t have an English menu so make sure you read through these instructions first). They are around 12NZD each, so well worth it. As always we were late, but rest assured the entry period is 30 minutes from your start time. In total we spent 2-3 hours at the museum.

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Tip 4: There is a shuttle that runs from Mitaka station to Ghibli Museum but we wouldn’t recommend it. By foot it takes the same amount of time (15 minutes) with cute Totoro signs guiding you and beautiful parks to walk through on the way there.

Tip 5: If you miss the gift shop at Ghibli Museum because of the crowd or you forgot, but in hindsight really want a cat bus or mini Totoro to take home, there is an excellent store on the street to Kiyomizu Temple (make sure you watch out for the Studio Ghibli sign as the shop is hidden at the back). They also have a very small selection of Totoro soft toys at the Metropolitan Government Office.

Tip 6: A number of different types of trains go through the same platform in Japan. Try to recognise, memorise, or save these categories to your phone to ensure you don’t hop on the wrong one. Here’s a good explanation from http://www.japan-guide.com:

Local (kakueki-teisha or futsu-densha)
Local trains stop at every station.
Rapid (kaisoku)
Rapid trains skip some stations. There is no difference in the ticket price between local and rapid trains.
Express (kyuko)
Express trains stop at even fewer stations than rapid trains. Japan Railways (JR) charges an express fee in addition to the base fare.
Limited Express (tokkyu)
Limited express trains stop only at major stations. A limited express fee usually has to be paid in addition to the base fare. It is typically between 500 and 4000 yen. JR railway companies always charge this fee, but some other private railway companies do not.
Super Express (shinkansen)
Shinkansen are only operated by JR. Shinkansen run along separate tracks and platforms. A limited express fee has to be paid in addition to the base fare. It is typically between 800 and 8000 yen.
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