The ancient capital of Japan is known for the cute deers roaming free in the park, bullying people for food and resting under the shades of trees and has the perfect balance between a small city with a touch of tradition.
Guesthouse Tamura with breakfast
I absolutely recommend Guest House Tamura if you’re staying in Nara. It’s a family house where the couple rent some of their rooms. We stayed in a bunk bed room but they also have a traditional Japanese room.
We even chose the option of having the traditional Japanese breakfast experience. Nothing can compare to this, if that Osaka takoyaki was perfect this breakfast was heaven. It filled us up well into the afternoon.
Walking from the guesthouse to the station, 10 minutes walking slowly
On the first day we left to visit Iga Ueno, as mentioned on the previous post, and when we got back we had a girls’ night out at a place that now seems the most run down place on Sanjo dori. However it had drinks, with actually decent amount of alcohol in them– which is surprising in Japan – and we were able to have our laughs and giggles.
Our night out pub. Second image is from Google maps. Looks much better at night
On our second day in Nara we left to explore Nara park. We didn’t research anything, so without knowing what to expect, we started to walk following our map from the tourist information center and the people around us.
Kofuku ji temple
Venturing into Nara park, we walked through the wide square area of the Kofukuji Five Storied Pagoda and the Kofuku ji. We then crossed a road and continued to walk along the park towards the Nara national museum.
We walked quite a while around the park seeing the many temples on the way.
Walking through all the temples to the top
At some point we were so high that from the temple we could see Nara city at the bottom. And from there we then started to go down towards the Todaiji temple.
Walking to Todaiji to see the Buddha statue
This temple constructed in 752 is one of the landmarks of Nara and it’s from a time when Buddhism was becoming really powerful in Japan. Inside, you will find a 15 meter high Buddha statue.
It seems that this old wooden building is the biggest wooden structure in the world and it’s smaller than it used to be. Also this whole area is considered a World Heritage since it illustrates culture influences on Japan’s society in the 8th century.
Sweets for us and the laboratory
Back from all of these temples it was finally time for lunch. We stopped at one of the many restaurants at the park in the afternoon and went through the souvenirs shops where we made friends with a Japanese grandma and bought some really cute souvenirs to bring with us.
Nara is totally worth the visit if you are in the area. I would much rather spend time here than in Osaka. They are two completely different cities and it all depends on what you are looking for. Plan for at least a 1 night stay, believe me the quiet and the Nature will make for a well-rested night.
You can get here from Osaka through the JR Yamatoji Rapid Service costing 8 dollars and taking almost 1 hour. From Kyoto the JR Nara Line Rapid Service takes 50 minutes and costs around 7 dollars. If you plan to get to Nara directly from Kansai Airport you will have to change from the Haruka train in Osaka at Tennoji station
If you like sushi, Nara has a special type of sushi wrapped in persimmon tree leaves. I remember that when we went to get our backpacks from the guesthouse we were given two sushi pieces as a farewell gift. Thank you so much.
Be careful while walking in Nara park, deers are not as innocent as they look, they will be very aggressive if they know you have food. We saw several people and children being bullied along the way.
Every year in October a ceremony is held to cut the antlers of the deers. So if like us, you would like to avoid that ceremony it happens around October – Just one day before we were there actually. I still believe that is the reason they looked at us with murderous looks.
What would I do differently
I definitely would have brought back a Nara sushi bento to eat on the train.
And also, now that I think of it… Vera, I would have taken a better picture of you with the deer. God, I took the worse pictures everywhere, what a waste…
Next week it’s finally time for Kyoto and to go back to Sendai. See you soon!