Things to do in Japan 2 – Nara
A 45 minute train ride from Osaka is all you need to visit one of the most interesting places in Japan. Nara is known for the massive wooden temple – Todai-ji temple – as well as for the tame Sika deer.
Wooden temples might be impressive, but I went with the purpose of adding some new deer buddies to my circle of acquaintances. That was not a challenge at all. They are literally everywhere.Sika deer are considered heavenly creatures since according to legends, a mythological guard once arrived to Nara riding a white deer to guard the capital. Most of the deer are gathered around Nara Park where they can be close to the tourists. Tourists who more than willingly will buy them deer biscuits from one of the many deer snack vendors on the streets.
As soon as I arrived to Nara Park, I was eager to show my deer buddies what a generous guy I am and went to the first vendor I could find. I was quick to realize that doing so is not a very smart idea. As soon as I received the biscuits the seller asked me to distance myself from her as soon as possible, the reason for it was would very soon be apparent. The deers know the system!!
I had a flock of 20-30 hungry animals around me as soon as I had the biscuits in my hand. The 10 biscuits I received from the vendor were gone before my friend even got the opportunity to snap a picture, after that some of the deer decided to nibble a bit on my clothes. It was an intense experience which I learned requires some planning and experience around large tame animals. However, my company had a good laugh at my expense so it was all worth it.Toudai-ji (東大寺) is a temple located around Nara Park and was known to be the world’s largest wooden building until 1998. Inside of the temple, people can take a close look at one of Japans national treasures – the world’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana. The statue measures a massive 49 feet (15 meters) in height and weights about 500 tons. Besides the statue, there is not much else to see inside of the temple, but the cover fee is very reasonable so I would recommend having a look. A must see for me was the Isuien Garden (依水園). A recommendation would be to go there during nice weather. If there has been precipitation during the day, some areas of the park will be closed because of slippery stones. The garden is a traditional Japanese garden and definitely worth a visit. All though not accessible by foot because of weather conditions, all of the areas are visible and offers some good opportunities for taking pictures. I paid the garden a visit during early spring, but fall would probably be the most preferable as it would most likely offer a colorful scenery.
All in all Nara is a must see. I have been there twice and would not hesitate to go again. You will find plenty of places to have a picnic if you need to catch a breather when the sightseeing gets to intense, odds say it probably will. Regardless of your stamina, you will enjoy it.
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