In my previous trip to kansai, I did a half-day trip to Nara, which is a beautiful city, just 42 km south of Kyoto. Nara is just under an hour away from Kyoto/Osaka and most of the attractions are within walking distance, so it’s a doable day trip if you’re visiting the kansai region. In this post I’ll be exploring around Todai-ji temple, Nigatsu-do, Kasuga Taisha, Kofuku-ji temple and Nara park.
Getting to Nara with train is easy – I took the train on Kinestu Nara Line from Kyoto Station and it took about 40 minutes to reach Kintetsu Nara Station.
If you’re traveling from Osaka, you can take the train from Osaka station on the Osaka loop line to Tsuruhashi station, after that you want to change trains on the Kintetsu Nara Line and get off at Kintetsu Nara Station (you should reach Nara under a hour).
That half-deer/half-buddha statue is Sento-kun, the official mascot of Nara city. Apparently many folks think it looks ridiculous and “uncute” when compared to the mascots of other prefectures ^^;
Grabbing some drinks and foodies at a convenience store before heading out to explore Nara. I’m a big fan of unsweetened tea/coffee (^o^)
Onigiri with crab fillings. Doesn’t taste as bad as i thought.
Also grabbed a pack of salmon bento – looks delicious, nom nom nom.
Started exploring Nara by walking along Nobori-oji Street from Kintetsu Nara station. This is where you’ll start to see many of Nara’s famous sacred deer as you go.
First encounter of the deers at a park.
These deers are usually calm and friendly – If you feed them, you will find yourself surrounded and followed by them ^^;
Took a detour into alleyway instead of walking along the main streets.
Carpark – 200 yen for every 30minutes
Path leading to Todai-ji Temple.
Japan school teacher vs Nara Deer.
Took a lot of photos of students feeding and interacting with these lovely deers.
The boys seem hesitate to feed the deer.
You buy those senbei (cookies for deers) for 150 yen a pack. The deers are crazy for these cookies.
According to local tales, these deers were once considered sacred animals and they are designated and protected as national treasures, which explains why they are allowed to roam freely in the public parks.
Japanese schoolgirl getting swamped by deers.
Moar cute interaction between schoolgirls x deer
Closer shot of one of the deers.
A lone deer watches as the group of students head towards Todaji temple.
Front view of Todaiji temple. Aside from being historically important, Todaiji Temple is one of the biggest wooden temples in Japan so it’s arguably the biggest sight to see in Nara. Admission fee is 500 yen~
Some photos taken at Daibutsuden (main hall of Todaiiji temple).
Inside the Daibutsuden, you can find models of former and current buildings of Todaiji temple grounds.
Inside Daibutsuden there is one pillar which has a hole at the base which is said to be the same size as the nostril on the giant Buddha statue. The students are trying hard to squeeze through the hole – as it is said one would receive the gift of enlightenment in their next life by doing so.
Everyone got their cameras ready as another student tries hard to get through the hole ^^
Heading off to Nigatsu-do hall (二月堂) after visiting Todaiji temple.
Stairway leading up to Nigatsudo Hall.
The Nigatsudo Hall is a short walk on the hill east of the Daibutsuden Hall and there is a nice view of the city from its balcony.
Deer under a road sign- that smirky face XD
Found some random stack of stones – a symbolism of zen/Buddhism?
Walking through Nara park to Kasuga Taisha Shrine
Moar encounters with deers at the park XD
Lovely shaped deer butts <3
水谷茶屋 Mizuya Tea house is a good place to stop for some quick nom noms while enjoying the nice view around here.
Found a huge stack of Ema at a small shrine.
I bought these back in year 2015 on a second-hand deal and it has became my favorite photography kit – it was smaller and lighter then your usual full-frame DSLR kit. Not to mention the image sensor in this camera is incredible too – was able to recover a lot of details from shadows/highlights during post-processing in Adobe Lightroom.
Also brought along my Sony RX100II for my Japan trip. I used to take photos with this camera a lot until I bought the A7ii, now I using this as a backup camera ^^; For a compact camera, it is rather pricey compared to its competitors but it has outstanding sensor performance and great image quality. Most of my Tokyo trip photos are taken with this amazing tiny camera.
Moving onto Kasuga-taisha Shrine – its famous for its lanterns which have been donated by its worshipers. Around the temple there are hundreds of bronze and stone lanterns, which made this temple very different from the other temples.
I find these deer-shaped Ema very cute – those eyes XD
Hundreds of wooden plaques with names of donors can be seen near the entrance of the shrine.
Exiting Kasuga-taisha Shrine – more tourists feeding more deers.
Managed to do a quick visit to Kofuku-ji Temple, yet another old temple in Nara. To be honest, it’s probably enough just to walk around the open grounds (no admission fee) since there isn’t much to see here.
Shoes getting all dirty and dusty from all the walking around Nara ><
From Kofukuji, you can take the stairs down leading to Sarusawa-ike (pond).
Sarusawa-ike is a man-made, green-colored pond – they say sometimes you can see turtles basking in the sun here.
Exploring around Sanjo-dori, these are traditional candy/toy shops.
Mochi pounding action going at Nakatanidou (中谷堂)- a famous mochi shop in Nara. These guys were so fast that they won the previous national high-speed mochitsuki championship (which is a competition for fast mochi-making…seriously). You can see them in action below:
In case if you’re wondering, Mochi is a kind of sweet glutinous rice dessert – very chewy and soft in texture. This mochi in particular was flavored with kinako (roasted soybean flour) and had sweet red bean fillings. Taste so good.
Heading into a Shotengai (shopping streets) in Nara.
Ramen with various toppings for less than 1000 yen, nom nom nom.
That’s all for my day trip in Nara- obviously there are so much more to explore around Nara (I had to travel to Osaka later that day so I left out a few attractions). Hopefully I’ll be able to visit this beautiful city again in the near future ^^