Welcome to the fascinating city of Nara, Japan with its friendly tame deer and fabulous Temples. “Nara-koen” with its’ eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites is a site to see. The city is compact and very easy to see in one day and is considered to be the birth place of Japanese Culture. Nara is only a day trip from Osaka or Kyoto, easily accessible by train. With my trusty * Lonely Planet Japan Travel Book and * Fodor’s Japan Travel Book I am ready to start my adventure.
First a visit to Daibutsu the “Great Buddha” located in the Todai-ji Temple is a site to behold. Finally take a stroll through Nara Park to walk among the tame deer. Lets’ learn about the history of Nara. Here are a few of my favorite places to visit.
Todai-ji Temple Nara
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Go into the temple of Todai-ji, stop, glance up and behold the full magnificent view of Daibutsu the “Great Buddha”. Stand there and feel the energy radiating from him. Turn around and see inside of this magnificent temple.
Todai-ji Temple was built for the Emperor Shomu in 752 A.D. who hoped to position it as the head temple and Vairocana Buddha. The Vairocana Buddha is the “Buddha that shines throughout the world like the Sun”
Village of the Deer Nara
Walk freely through the Village of the Deer and be greeted by the tame Sika Deer.
According to legendary history, a mythological god Takemikazuchi arrived in Nara on a white deer to guard the capital. Since that time they have been regarded as protectors of the city and country therefore makes them heavenly animals.
As of 2015 there were more than 1,200 Sika Deer in Nara and they all want some snacks.
Vendors that line the walkway sell deer crackers to feed the deer. Be careful once you pull out the snack they will all come and gather around you and try to take the snack, bag and all.
Location & Transportation to Nara
Nara is located in the Kansai Region of Japan. It can be accessed by Train using the Japan Rail Pass that is bought before going to Japan. Other alternatives to access to Nara is by JR lines and Kintesu Railway (private railway company) connects Osaka/Kyoto with Nara too.
Kintetsu Limited Express from Kyoto to Nara takes 30 mins. There are certain times these run. Make sure to stop by the Kyoto Tourist Information Center (TIC) on the 2nd floor to obtain information and they will give you times. Each day you buy a ticket have them write down the times of departure for each town.
The train station can be intimidating but informative, therefore stop by the information center and they will help you with directions in English.
Other Activities to do in Nara
- Isui-en & Neiraku Art Museum
- Daibutsu Hiking Course that is a wooden trail that connects Kita kamakura with te Daibutsu. (apporx 1 ½ hours)
Enjoy your time in this amazing city. First, I suggest to make this a day trip from Osaka and also do multiply day trips to Kyoto. Second, I found the hotels less expensive in Osaka than Kyoto as a home base. Lastly, the best time to visit Nara is in – late March to mid-May, mid-August, and during New Year Period.
Most noteworthy school children in groups with their teacher, walk up to Westerners to practice their English and ask a set of questions. These questions were thought of ahead of time and your answers are written down. Please participate, it is fun and the kids enjoy your interaction. In the end a photo opportunity is available.
There are other wonderful places to visit in Japan. See my blogs on Kyoto, Osaka, & Hiroshima. Great Hotel Recommendations, Activities to visit along with Restaurants and Pubs. More travel locations at 1AdventureTraveler.
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