Tiny Hippo Stays at a Temple

Tiny Hippo in the Fall

If you are spending the night on Mount Koya, you will need a place to rest your Tiny Hippo

Koyasan Onsen Fukuchiin Shukubo

While there aren’t any hotels on the mountain, there are shukubos which are temple lodgings run by monks. This was our shukubo: Koyasan Onsen Fukuchiin

Inside temple lodgings

We enjoyed the tradition architecture complete with tatami mats and shoji doors

Garden at temple

The meticulously designed gardens were a thing of beauty

Gravel design in rock garden

Just be careful where you tread, only the leaves are allowed to venture onto the intricate patterns

Koi pond

Koyasan Onsen Fukuchiin was the only lodging on the mountain that had its own hot spring for bathing, as it would be indecent for me to photograph such things, here is the koi pond

Tiny Hippo and the Buddha

As evening falls, you may wish to expand your mind with the teachings of the enlightened one

Dinner at Koyasan Onsen Fukuchiin

The vegetarian feast provided by the monks is served in your room. Some of the dishes come with their own fire to keep them toasty warm

Tiny Hippo Feasts

Each dish holds new surprises for the adventurous Tiny Hippo

Dinner in Japan

Don’t worry though, it is all delicious!

Tiny Hippo in the Moss

I left my wonderful temple lodging in Koyason relaxed and rejuvenated. Onward to Kyoto!

Welcome to Koyasan

The next stop on my tour of Japan is Koyasan!


Koyasan is a small temple town atop Mount Koya, it is the center of Shingon Buddhism.

Koyasan Pilgrim

Koyasan welcomes pilgrims and visitors alike.

Koyasan Building

This mountain top sanctuary is full of hidden gems just off the beaten trail. We found this building hidden at the end of an old path.

Seated Buddha, Mount Koya

The giant cemetery of Koyasan is a mixture of old and new, this Buddha seemed fairly new…

Koyasan Lanterns

while these stone lanterns seem to be disappearing into the mountain.

Koyasan Monks

We were lucky enough to witness a chanting meditation taking place in the extremely cold river. It was an awe-inspiring experience. Onlookers joined in the chanting, I only wish that I had known the words.


Koyasan is a wonderful place where centuries of religious devotion can be witnessed and honored.

Tiny Hippo Makes a Friend in Yoshikien Garden

Yoshikien Garden, Nara

Yoshikien Garden in Nara was my favorite garden in Japan.

Yoshikien Garden in the Fall

This garden is so peaceful, as an added plus, it is free to all foreign visitors!

Tiny Hippo Gets Lonely

Despite being in such a beautiful garden, even a Tiny Hippo can get lonely…

Tiny Hippo in a Garden

Don’t worry though, you are bound to make friends anywhere! While posing for this picture I heard people giggling and chattering behind me. That is to be expected, you know, I am often a great source of interest.

Tiny Hippo Meets another Travel Companion

What i didn’t realize was that I was about to meet someone just like me! This is a mouse from Singapore.

Travel Companions

He travels the world just like I do, acting as a travel companion for his human friend.

Photo Shoot in Yoshikien Garden

The mouse travel companion also tends to be rather clumsy, just like a certain Tiny Hippo.

Making Friends

We made sure to get a photo with our humans so no one felt left out. It was a glorious chance meeting.

Tiny Hippo at Yoshikien Garden

Even after the mouse and I parted ways I took the joy of meeting a kindred spirit in such an unlikely place with me for the rest of my visit.

Tiny Hippo White Flower

My one regret about my meeting the mouse and his human was that I did not get their contact info, it was all too exciting to think of such a trivial thing! If you know the mouse traveling companion or even his human please let them know I am looking for them!

Nara: The City of Deer

Nara Deer

The deer of Nara Park are one of its most defining features.

Nara Deer Toys

Wild deer roam Nara Park while stuffed deer frolic through the shops.

Nara Deer Warnings

She looks harmless enough.

Tiny Hippo in Nara Park

I am sure there is nothing to worry about, the deer look so cute.

Nara Park Deer Fall

Here comes one now, what a rare treat!

Deer and a Tiny Hippo in Nara

Why hello, what long eyelashes and whiskers you have, madam.

Tiny Hippo and Deer

Oh! I did not see your friend behind me, you must forgive my rudeness at not complimenting both of you fine ladies this lovely morning.

Tiny Hippo Surrounded by Nara Deer

Sir, things are getting a bit cramped in here, please wait your turn, I know the moss is delicious in this area.

Tiny Hippo with Nara Deer

Great jumping jellybeans, they’re everywhere!

Nara Deer Crackers

Yes, that’s it, distract them with your crackers!

Tiny Hippo Rescued From the Deer

Thank you, kind lady, you have saved me from a horrific fate.


Old Daijoin Temple Garden

Old Daijoin Temple Garden

This is the Old Daijoin Temple Garden, a 12th century garden which is just a short walk from Nara Hotel

While the garden is lovely and tranquil, our favorite part about visiting the Old Daijoin Temple Garden was the Heritage Center. The center had a calligraphy exhibition on view which was lovely. The people working at the center were delightful and very excited that we showed interested in their work. In the center’s tea room there was a group of women dressed in pretty kimonos who were serving dessert and tea. The women were ecstatic once we finally worked up the nerve to venture into their domain. They rushed to make sure we were comfortable and then spent a half hour or so chatting with us. It would be fair to say that we were just as interested in them as they were in us. The women were eager to let us in on the best things Nara had to offer, specifically the locally grown foods. They even rustled up some Clementine oranges and a persimmon for us to take back to our hotel. These ladies were the model of hospitality and if I had not already fallen in love with Japan this experience sealed the deal. If you pass by the Daijoin Temple Garden stop in, you may just stumble into a charming new world.

Tiny Hippo at Old Daijoin Temple Garden, Nara

The Zen of the gardens is felt by even the smallest of hippos.