After spending a couple of days checking out the sites around Kyoto, we decided to take a day trip to Nara.
Nara is one of the ancient capitals of Japan and is located about an hour away from Kyoto (by train). Just like our visit to Kyoto, we spent most of our day visiting sites which make up the “Ancient Sites of Nara” which are collectively a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most of them are found within Nara Park.
Like Miyajima Island, Nara also has tons of four-legged friends wandering around. Surprisingly these were even more tame and also much friendlier! Interacting with the deer was probably my favorite part of the visit. Lucas wasn’t a big fan and got scared when the deer came too close to his stroller.
Here is what we did in Nara:
- Kofuku-ji Temple– a variety of buildings
- Interacting with the Tame Deer
- Todai-ji Temple- Home to the world’s largest state of bronze Buddha
- Kasuga Taisha- A shrine with lots of lanterns
- Mos Burger- Japan’s version of McDonald’s
When we arrived in Nara, we headed right over to Kofuku-ji. (UNESCO)
The temple complex is made up of many impressive buildings. Some favorites were the three story and five story pagodas. The building shown in the photo above was also really unique and amazing. A huge building on the site was being restored but this didn’t take away from our visit. Our first stop was a great one due to the variety of buildings and structures that we got to see.
As far a I’m concerned, add some friendly wildlife to an area and you have an attraction.
Nara stood out to me due to the amount of tame deer roaming around and relaxing throughout the park. They pose well for photos but many are also constantly looking for food and can be a nuisance & pain. I loved interacting with the deer and found it really funny when some of the deer took cover in a temple during a downpour.
Lucas didn’t feel the same about the deer. He was really curious about them but got really scared when they came too close to his stroller. When Lucas was out and being held he was more curious about them
Todai-ji was another amazing temple complex which houses the world’s largest bronzes Buddha. (UNESCO)
The Buddha was an awesome site to see but only part of the fun during our visit.
On the path leading to the gate, hundreds of deer were walking around and relaxing along the way. Some of the deer can be aggressive but pretty much only if you have food.
Once inside the Great Buddha Hall we were amazed by the huge, bronze Buddha statue. There are also other interesting statues throughout the building.
It started to rain really hard while we visited so we took extra time to check out the statues. We noticed a few school groups visiting and it turned out that the main reason they were there was to practice English. We were approached by countless numbers of kids, all asking the same list of questions- where are you from, why did you come to Japan, what is your favorite city and so on. It was fun interacting with the kids and the teachers thanked us for taking the time to answer the questions over and over again. After each group of kids spoke to us, they gave us an origami- paper crane. It was definitely a nice experience.
We visited Kasuga Taisha to see what was along the way to the shrine, more so than to go inside. (UNESCO)
We walked through a park (more like a forest) which was set aside for the deer to roam freely. Along the walk, thousands of stone lanterns lined the path to the shrine. Inside we also saw rows of metal (bronze) lanterns. We were getting pretty tired from a long day so we didn’t make it much further than the main courtyard.
Kasuga Taisha stood out also due to the red color of the buildings.
Mos Burger wasn’t so fast like McDonald’s. After ordering you sit down and the food is brought to your table by an employee. The menu has lots of options but I had to try a burger. The burger was very tasty and had I seen another Mos Burger in Japan I would’ve ate there again.
Our visit to Nara was one of the highlights of the trip. To me, Nara had the feeling of what I expected Kyoto to be- a walkable, small city with great sites and a laid- back vibe.