Nara is a spectacularly picturesque city which is second only to Kyoto for the richness and beauty of its temples, shrines and gardens. It is located less than one hour from Kyoto and Osaka. Due to its past as the first permanent capital, it remains full of historic treasures, including some of Japan’s oldest and largest temples.
From our hotel, we took the JR Train (Osaka Loop first, then continued on the same train to Nara station via Yamatoji Line). Once we reached the station, we went around, bought some snacks at the local supermarket, asked the tourist information center for some directions on where we can eat and off we went. Everything is just walking distance from the train station although there is a Nara Sightseeing Bus that stops at all the tourist spots within Nara. We opted to just walk since it was a nice day to stroll around anyways. 🙂
We walked up to Sanjodori St. where we ate lunch (ramen of course:D) and then proceeded to the nearest tourist spot, the Kofokuji Temple which is also along the same road. Kofokuji Temple used to be the family temple of the Fujiwara, the most powerful family clan during much of the Nara and Heian Periods. Within the temple compound is a five story pagoda, and at 50 meters it’s Japan’s second tallest.
The main reason for our trip to Nara is the Deer Park. The Nara Park is under the control of Nara Prefecture and is home to hundreds of freely roaming deers. These Sika deer have become a symbol of the city and have even been designated as a natural treasure. Nara’s deer are surprisingly tame, although they can be aggressive if they think you will feed them. Deer crackers are for sale around the park, and some deer have learned to bow to visitors to ask to be fed.
Read more about our Nara adventure here.
On the way to the Todaiji Temple is the Isuen Garden and the Yoshikien Garden. It is situated beside each other and while the Isuen Garden has an entrance fee of 900 JPY, the Yoshikien Garden is free for foreigners.
After the garden, we walked to the direction of the Todaiji temple and stumbled upon more of the deer roaming freely about. This time though, they weren’t as aloof as the other ones we encountered earlier and in no time they were able to finish off our crackers. It was quite exciting and terrifying to feed them and be near them but it was a satisfying experience altogether.
Todaiji is one of Nara’s landmarks and its main hall, the Daibutsuden (Big Buddha Hall) is the world’s largest wooden building, despite the fact that the present reconstruction of 1692 is only two thirds of the original temple hall’s size. The massive building houses one of Japan’s largest bronze statues of Buddha (Daibutsu). We didn’t pay the entrance fee to get closer to the temple but we still got a glimpse of the amazing structure from the viewing area.
With that we decided to go back to the train station. On the way back we saw some more of the deer and I was able to take a selfie with one :D.
Read more on our Japan Travel Series 🙂
On the way home we decided to make one more stop, the Osaka Castle. From Nara station we took the train to Tennoji then the Osaka loop line to Morinomiya Station.
That’s it for Nara. Going to Nara even just for a day is totally worth it. Do
Til next time!
*Photos taken using iPhone 6s, Xiaomi Yi Action Camera and Nikon d3000.