Magical Nara

Posted on October 10, 2016


An easy day trip from Kyoto, Nara was the capital of Japan before Kyoto (which was the capital before Tokyo). Some good itineraries and reasons to go to Nara can be found on blogs Inside Kyoto and 2 Aussie Travellers.

We opted for a day trip, which realistically turned into just a few hours by the time we got up and out! Getting off the train we started walking along one of the main shopping streets, towards the park where most of the temples and shrines are.

img_0226On our way through we spotted an ‘owl cafe‘. ‘Animal Cafes’ was a trend which we’d heard about and so were curious to check it out. There are tons, particularly in Tokyo, where instead of owning a pet, you can pop into a local cafe and have your fill of petting for an hour or so whilst sipping on an over priced coffee (around $10 covers entrance, a drink and petting).

img_0229Our next stop was Yoshikien garden which is actually three gardens in one (pond, moss and tea ceremony) with the bonus that foreign tourists enter for free.

img_0232There are seven great temples of Nara, of which we visited four. Our first temple stop was Todai-ji, just a short walk from the gardens and host to the world’s largest bronze buddha statue.

img_0234Walking to Tamukeyama Hachiman-gū Shrine and then following the mossed, lantern lined paths to the small shopping street we stopped for a well earned bit to eat at a simple place.

The cafe sold just two types of bagels plus drinks. The room was sparsely furnished – very Japanese – with some wooden fayre that was being sold. It was here that I discovered the merger of two things that I had developed a taste for in the preceding days – yuzu and sake. So wrong, yet so right on a hot, humid afternoon. The tofu bagel that accompanied it was also delicious. Annoyingly I can’t remember the name of the cafe but if you are there, it’s at the lower end of the street, to the left of the top of the stairs. The opposite end of the street from Kasugano (which is also meant to be good),

img_0238We finished by wandering up to Kasuga Taisha which should not be missed. The lanterns, in stone leading to the temple, and the individual bronze lining the interior are just stunning. I can’t do it justice in this photo – go see it if you can.

img_0235The real highlight of Nara are these blighters everywhere: the ‘bowing dear’. As you can see, they are extreme tame. Deer cookie-like food is available t purchase at various places and when offered to the deer with hand held high, they bow. I was very overexcited by this whole experience.

Nara was the most magical place I saw in Japan, totally magical.

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Posted in: Asia, Destinations, Japan