Nara city – tamed deers, huge Budha statues and good Japanease food
Initially I thought that visiting Nara would be a waste of time, and as the train approached the city it looked as an unpleasant industrial city, but once you get off the train you get an overwhelming surprise – the Japanese culture is (again) providing pleasent surprises: a relaxed atmosphere, clean streets, very interesting shops and very interesting restaurants.
Nara is the capital of Japan’s Nara Prefecture, in south-central Honshu. The city has significant temples and artwork dating to the 8th century, when it was Japan’s capital. Deer roam in Nara Park, site of Tōdai-ji temple. Daibutsu, Tōdai-ji’s 15m-high bronze Buddha, is displayed in a large wooden hall. On the park’s east side is the Shinto shrine Kasuga Taisha, which dates to 768 A.D. and more than 3,000 lanterns. We bought the city round trip bus ticket but as we got out off the train station we realized that it is actually not required since the park is walk distance from the train station, and the streets are very pleasant to wonder about. You can meet the tamed deer are already in the entrance to the park, and feed them with rye biscuits sold for 150 Yens.
If you know how to handle animals you may want to try to trick a baby deer to join a selfie. Apparently living in rural New Zealand could sometimes give you an advantage over other tourists….!
Toda-Ji temple is astonishing, the bronze Buddha statue is huge and the temple building itself is (I think) the largest wood-only (ie no nails) building in the world.
The sorrounding gardens and other temples are also very nice, in the back of the temple there are some houses with beautiful rice sections.￼
The outlook from behind the back temple (I forgot its name) is also spectacular, and going up to that temple then down from the other side back to Toda-Ji exposes a beautiful pavilion: