I was really looking forward to this museum & I wasn't disappointed. The museum was great! The entrance fee is ¥800/adult which is totally worth it, especially if you pick up the free audio tour on iPad (we didn't listen to the audio but we did watch the videos which were really good). All the exhibits were very good and gave a real sense of the master craftsmanship required to construct the temples and buildings all over Japan.
There were interactive areas which kept us entertained as we tried to figure out how the joints came apart & went back together, and an area showing all the different woods used in tree & shaving form smelled amazing!
We easily spent 1.5 hours at the museum and bought little box of wooden 'lego' at the front desk when we gave back the iPads. We then walked back to the hotel (more map problems) to pick up our luggage and catch the 13:35 Shinkansen to Kyoto (30 minute journey).
The subways are very straight forward in Japan on the whole, unfortunately we got lost in Kyoto as Google Maps had said the station we needed was Korasuma, which it turned out couldn't be reached directly from Kyoto station; So we ended up at Korasuma-Oiji when we actually needed Shijo station to get to the hotel. Luckily a man (called Tomo) saw us looking lost and asked if we needed help. He told us we were a 15 minute walk from the station we wanted and 20 minute walk from the hotel. He very kindly then proceeded to show us the way to the hotel, right the way to the front door! We exchanged email addresses as we wanted to thank him for his kindness.
We arrived at the hotel at 15:15 and were able to check in straight away, we had booked 3 nights at Unizo Kyoto Shijo Korasuma. Once we'd recovered from our long walk with suitcases we headed out to feed the deer at Nara Park! We caught the subway from Shijo to Kyoto, then got the 16:05 local line to Nara, arriving at 16:50. We took the yellow bus from bus stop 2 to N7 stop as this looked like the place with the most deer! We bought 2 packs of deer crackers (¥150/pack) at the first shop on the street then went to engage the deer. There were deer everywhere; walking, standing, sitting, posing, singularly and in groups. I took the first cracker and looked to find a deer to give it to when suddenly there was one at my elbow:
So I got in a space and bowed to the deer; obviously my first attempt was not a deep enough bow, but on my second bow the deer bowed back. I was thrilled!
I bowed and fed a few more and then it was M's turn. He instantly had a crowd around him:
We didn't want to give away all our crackers at once so we tried to stash them away in bags; The deer are not daft, they knew exactly what was going on. I fed 2 deer in a group and got nibbled on the elbow and rib during the process, so then I tried walking away and one bit me in the butt! More of a firm nibble really but it was definitely a surprise. We found that the deer are very persistent but fairly gentle in their insistence for crackers, although I would say not to let under 10's feed them alone/get separated from parents as the antlers are pretty unnerving and at child eye-height.
We found that showing them 2 splayed open hands to indicate no more crackers worked and the deer would wander off. We managed to make it to the massive temple gate unhindered but then realised we'd been completely absorbed in deer-feeding and so had missed the temple which closed at 17:30. Oops! However both the gate and temple were very impressive from the outside, next time we go we'll do the deer feeding after we sightsee.
After we walked along two sides of the temple we walked back through the main gate; what a difference 30-40 minutes makes! Nearly all the deer were gone, there only 3-4 left when before there'd been at least 40!
One of the remaining deer was a real clever one that knew exactly where to pose for optimal attention:
We got videos of ourselves bowing and feeding this deer, it was perfect. We'd found that some deer waited for you to bow before they would and others bowed on their way to you to speed the process up. This one waited for you to start bowing and then dipped her head right to the floor and back up; very good bow! She got about 7 crackers but was totally worth it for the ultimate deer bowing.
With no more crackers left it was time to pick our way back up the street through the minefield of deer poop. The shop keepers were hosing down the floor as we made our back, which I imagine they must do every night so its presentable for the next day's tourists.
Back at Nara station we bought ice cream and plum wine then caught the 18:55 Rapid Service back to Kyoto. Coming out of Shijo subway station we bought dinner at Family Mart and stayed in to rest and start uploading photos to cloud storage to empty the camera's SD card. We also emailed Tomo asking him to dinner the next evening...