When people come to Japan, they usually visit the big cities – Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. And while these are fantastic, and you definitely should go, there is a very special place, not far from Osaka that should be slapped onto your itinerary for sure; and that place is Nara.
Just a short, 10 minute walk from Nara station is the stunning Todaiji Temple, nestled in the middle of Nara Park. Right in front of the temple is a huge decorative lake. I spent about 20 minutes just taking pictures here, as the surrounding plants, and the relfections on the water were simple stunning. There’s also a little jetty/ stage that pokes out into the water. When I arrived, the monks were doing a performance, dancing and chanting – super cool.
The temple and grounds are beautiful, and definitely worth a good wander; but the main attraction here is something a little more furry…
Bambi!!….sorry, I mean, deer.
Nara park is famous for its deer population. There are over 1200 wild deer residing here who are, for the most part, very friendly. There are stalls all around the park where you can buy a pack of ‘Deer Crackers’ for a few hundred yen, and then off you go! The deer near the entrance are often less likely to eat, as everyone goes up to them straight away, so they’re probably full! Walk a bit further in though, and you will be mobbed by cute little bambis wanting to get a nibble.
Even better than this, the deer have learned how to bow for their food. When holding one of your deer crackers, bow to the deer; and they will bow back to get the cracker! It’s possibly the most Japanese thing I have ever seen.
Do be careful though. These are still wild animals. My dad got pecked by one when he had run out of food! No injuries, but it can hurt. If you have small children, just keep an eye on them. We saw some kids running around and teasing the deer – they were very lucky that we were nearby with food to distract them, or they might have gotten hurt!
You could easily spend hours and hours here; feeding deer, and walking around the temple. It’s an easy and worthwhile day trip from Osaka or Kyoto, so you should consider adding it into your trip if you plan on visiting either city.
What are your favourite day trips you’ve taken around the world? Have you ever been to Nara? Let me know in the comments!
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