We went Nara as a day trip from Osaka. I love Nara Park. It is such a lovely and vivid park. No matter you go during the winter or summer, you can always have some fun there.
In the beginning, it’s hard to convince Dr.R that Nara is fun. Yes, Nara is so famous for its deer. If you are not a big fan of animals, you would wonder what you can get out of this day.
But this is not true. As the old capital city of Japan, Nara has much more than just the deer to offer.
Keep reading, and you will find out:
Travel tips: if you got Kansai Pass, take the JR line from Osaka Station to Nara. It will take about 50 min without out the pass, the return cost is 1600 Y (20 AUD) There is no shinkansen line between Osaka and Nara.
Most of the sightseeing place is located inside the Nara Park. When you out of the Nara Jr station, its pretty much just walk straight for 20 mins. If you take the private Kintetsu line, it is even closer and probably only take 10 mins.
There are hundreds of interesting small stores and local restaurants along the road towards the park. I absolutely love them.
There are so many deer in this park. You don’t need to be scared if you don’t have the food – the deer Senbai (the baked crackers). if you do, you probably want to look after yourself, your paper map, you cloth, your bag, they all might be biten by those beautiful deer.
You can buy that deer food pretty much any store inside the park. It cost 150 y (1.9 AUD) each pack and can let you have some fun for quite a long time
I got five deer instantly spot me with their food. They immediately ran to me…you can pat them if you want, just be careful because they are kind of aggressive lol
There are two major sightseeing places in this park:
Cost: 600y for the temple and 500 y for the museum, joint ticket 800 y
this Buddhist temple is currently in world heritage, and it is the largest wooden structure exist in Asia. Even you are not religious people, this place will bring you the surprise.
It’s so stunning and “WOW” is the only thing you probably would say when you walk past the ticket gate. It is so giant that you just feel, Wow!
At this moment, Dr.R started to think my Nara recommendation is a great idea (omg so hard :P)
The whole temple will take you around 1 hour to finish. I personally think the museum is not that great, but it has some information about how this temple made.
I also found it is so amazing that deer are not inside this place although no one blocks them at the gate.
Kasuga Taisha （春日大社）
Not too far away from the Todai Ji, there is a famous Shrine or a collection of shrines.
It is a Shinto Shrine and has been there over 1300 years. Different from the Buddhism, Shinto is Japan’s traditional religion. It worships “Kami” which are gods in their beliefs.
A Taisha often has this red shrine as the starting point
I love this place because it is really peaceful. The walk is calm and pleasant.
Kasuga Taisha has a lot of lanterns around. Those lanterns were donated by Shinto worshipers. They created remarkable sightseeing for this place.
Every year February and August, they are lighted during the lighting festival. I beat it is very stunning.
There are separate little shrines around the main shrine. For example, this shrine was for the couple:
and you see all the wishes on the wall with all the good wishes, such as wish god protect me to find my future husband, or I love my wife forever.
Part of the main shrine was under preparation for the new year eve, so we cant get in during this trip. But walking on those small lanes with those cute young deer is already very satisfying experience to me.
Nara has a lot of local specialties.
Fruit wise, the Nara strawberry is very expensive but something you have to try.
This 12 strawberries cost us 650 y (7.8 Aud), but they are the best strawberries I ever had. So fragrant, sweet and so juicy. If you are exxy enough, Nara also has a strawberry lab and selling those ridiculous expensive strawberry- 4 boxes for 200 Aud. I didn’t try those, but I am open to feedback 🙂
Persimmon is another local fruit but it’s not in the season. Because persimmon is the local delicacy, Nara also famous for its persimmon leaf wrapped sushi:
We went to this place call Izasa. This is one of those sushi places/ brands that been around for many many years. We even saw the chain store in Tokyo! It has a couple of stores around Nara and we went to this small corner shop. You can either buy a takeaway box or just sit in and eat.
we got 8 of them! 4 flavours each.
so the idea is the fish will have the fragrant of the persimmon leaf and also become less fishy. I think its true. just remember don’t eat the persimmon leaf. you need to peel them off to eat your sushi.
the Owl Cafe
if you really want to have something extra to finish off your day. here you go
yes. Nara has an owl cafe.
Owl Cafe Watawata is just 10 mins walking distance from both the park and the JR station. Its small cozy but a good place to have a rest and look at over 10 different type of owls. The price is 1300y (15.5 aud) per person for 1 hour. You get to pick a drink, some snacks and a photo with the owl you like.
I saw people online saying Osaka’s owl cafe has less restrict rule and you can take photos with as many owls as you want. But hey, for someone like me who see real owls the first time, this is already good enough!
An absolute highlight of my day!!!
In summary, I love Nara because of its interest contrast. Modern life mixed with tradition, Buddist temple with Shinto Shrines, deer and owls. So many things packed into such a small area, and together bring us a really enjoyable day.
(sunset in Nara park)