After dreamland we pulled into town and parked our van for 1000 yen so we could go check out the deer park :) The one downside to the van was finding parking, I'd been so used to catching public transport previously in Japan that parking hadn't even crossed my mind when contemplating the campervan idea. Overall, it was only in the main city centers we had to pay for parking and I don't believe it added too much of an expense onto the trip and definitely wasn't a deal breaker.
The area around the deer park is always a fun visit, there are shrines and temples and museums and shops and of course several parks filled with free roaming deer + stalls to buy deer crackers to feed them :)
I let Ben do all the cracker giving because I'm a big weiner! The deer are way too pushy for me and definitely not shy in giving you friendly (or not so friendly!) head butts to make sure you give them those damn crackers!
We also spied a couple of older gents flying paper planes - how cute is that!
Ben also got to be a hero and get a paper plane down from a tree for them, although seeing their handy invention later on, they were probably quite capable anyway :p
A new (to me) craze was peeps giving their crackers via mouth for an elusive kissing shot. I tried to warn Ben this didn't make for the best picture though in hindsight maybe I was wrong :P
The stall where you can buy Shika Senbei aka deer crackers for 150 yen
Ben also tried the famous Nara pudding (Mahoroba Daibutsu Purin) and gave his two thumbs up :)
That night after working out our Michi no eki for the night we also hunted down a nearby onsen (Mt shigi hotel) this was one of the fancier and onsen (1800 yen for both of us) but since we each had our section to ourselves by luck, it was definitely worth it. I also took some sneaky photos, since I knew there were no privacy issues :)
Above is the main bath (after going through the changing room) with shower heads at each mirror and white stools (stacked up in the corner) which you grab to sit on. Being a fancier onsen this one had soap and shampoo and conditioner supplied but not always the case so we ended up having a little pack of soaps we bought with us - just in case! Mt Shigi onsen had an inside bath (above) and outside bath and I would say was definitely on the smaller side. Oh and the point of the showers is to clean yourself before stepping into the bath to keep it all hygienic and stuff :)
After paying for your onsen, the front desk staff usually point you in the direction of the onsen although it's also pretty easy to work out yourself, just look for the pink/red and blue curtains - pink for girls, blues for boys! Some onsens are mixed but I've never been to one and yup, the idea does scare me a little :p
After going through the curtains and a door (for privacy) you'll enter a changing room. the first time going to an onsen can be a little confrontational because peeps will usually be half dressed here and it's also when you have to strip off and put all your clothes in a basket. you can bring in a little modesty towel and drape this in front of you as you walk around so you don't feel too uncomfortable - just remember to pop the towel onto of your head or to the side when you actually step into the bath. Even though, I'm definitely shy, this trip I fully embrace all the nudity goodness and walked around with my good old pale self :p
You can also see the vanity above, I got excited to see all the creams each onsen had, with many then selling them in the front foyer - good selling tactic, try before you buy! Oh and word of warning not all hotel onsens let you go if you're not a paying guests - we found out the hard way later on in our trip :)
Japan has a few fast food type chains, which tended to sell a lot of meat meals. Not being able to read the menu and only guess from photos meant I tried to play it safe with what I ordered and was therefore probably disadvantaged. What I'm eating above is all from their sides range - although a bowl of hot food turned out to be a super luxury for me on this trip!
I believe this ridiculously cute building was a cake shop and since it was just across from our michi no eki, I couldn't resist taking a photo of it :)