If you think all deer are innocent beautiful creatures like Bambi, a visit in Nara will make you reconsider. I recommend Nara to all my friends. It should be a must-see item on everyone’s bucketlist. Not only do you get to see beautiful shrines and temples amid lush nature, you also get to interact with deer and by interact I mean try to feed one, get surrounded by many, get bitten on your behind and try to get away from them while they follow you begging for more deer-cookies and bowing their heads Japanese style. What a fun day!
Nara is one of my favorite destinations. We went there twice and I wouldn’t mind a third visit. The town is pretty small and it is easy to walk to the park from the station. You can get a city map at the information counter which shows you the best walking route. Most of the attractions are located in the park and surrounded by crowds of tourist and deer. The tourists start to disappear when you get deeper into the park since most come to visit the Todaiji Temple (東大寺, Tōdaiji, “Great Eastern Temple”), the deer on the other hand are everywhere. And I love it!
I only want to show a few photos of them, because posting all will take up all the space on my drive. The temple itself is beautiful in and outside. It is a landmark of Nara and one of Japan’s most famous and historically significant temples. We didn’t go in the first time, but I don’t regret returning there and seeing it from the inside. The main hall, the Daibutsuden (大仏殿 Big Buddha Hall) is the world’s largest wooden building. It is quite stunning to see the 15 meters tall bronze statue of Buddha. You feel very tiny and insignificant in front of it.
On the right side of the entrance is a statue of Binzuru (賓頭盧), a Japanese name for Pindola Bharadvaja. It was one of the Arhats asked by the Buddha to remain in the world to propagate Buddhist law. It says that if you are ill, you can touch the place on your body which is hurting and touch the Binzuru on the same place, it will supposedly help you heal. Why does it look so creepy though?
Moving on from Todaiji you can explore the sights in the park while walking in the direction of Kasuga-Taisha 春日大社 shrine. We visited a small Udon Restaurant which had the most beautiful view from the window.
What I like about Kasuga-Taisha is not the shrine itself, but the way to the shrine, which is surrounded by over thousand stone lanterns. I can only imagine what it looks like when they are all lit at once.
Returning to the station we discovered a small café and had the best coffee experience so far. This coffee machine looks magical! The owner told us, it is a Japanese machine and we don’t have it in the west. I don’t know if it is true or not, but it was a great experience.
The way back to the station presented this sight, which I will leave here without commenting further: