Writing about my day in Nara is actually really hard for me, because it was honestly one of the best days of my life. And I’m sad that it’s over.
Since our Airbnb was in Kyoto, we actually had to take the train to Nara that morning. It took a quick hour and we got to Nara at around 10 AM. From the train station, we followed the signs on the sidewalk and walked for about 15 minutes to get to Heijo-kyo, Japan’s capital city during the Nara period in the 700s.
Heijo Palace is actually in the middle of a pretty big park along with its gate, an ancient courtyard, some museums, and small ponds. It was a really nice morning walk with Andy. Nara is even less busy than Kyoto and it was just really serene being alone with Andy in yet another new city that we’ve never been to. And I don’t know how, but you can just feel that Nara is an old city by just being there and I liked that feeling.
Before heading over to our next destination, we grabbed a bite to eat near the station at a cute cafe restaurant selling Japanese-fusion cuisine.We got a curry plate, seafood, and of course a side of salad because we needed our veggie.
After visiting the palace and its famous gate, we took the subway to Nara Park. And I was in for such a surprise. I really wanted to go to Nara because I had heard that you could feed deer there but I never imagined that there would be so many of them and everywhere! And the deers were unimaginably cute and so friendly. I miss them everyday.
Deer cookies at Nara Park cost 150 yen for a small stack of cookies and the deers go crazy for them. They’re so adorable, they’ll follow you around if you feed them.
After playing around with the deers for a while, we were on our way to Todai-ji. Along the way, we found a cute little garden that showcases three different styles of gardens – a pond garden, a moss garden, and a tea ceremony flower garden. Again, it was really nice walking the garden with Andy since it wasn’t that busy and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. And I loved the old Japanese architecture of the tea house and the arrangements of the gardens.
Apparently Andy and I are pretty bad at following signs because it took us quite a while to find Todai-ji, a huge temple that holds the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha. At least we found some more cute resting deers along the way.
Todai-ji was a really grand temple and quite a popular tourist attraction. It was quite a sight to behold such a huge statue. It really makes you wonder how people back then were able to create something so amazing with their limited resources. It must have taken quite a bit of dedication.
Next, we made our way to Kasuga-taisha, a Shinto shrine in the middle of the Kasugayama Primeval Forest. It was such a lovely walk in the forest. There were tons of deers along the way and also a lot of small booths selling amazing street food. We wanted to try everything!
From Kasuga-taisha, we made our way to Kofuku-ji through a trail in the forest. The trail continued to the entrance of Nara Park leading to some more pretty scenery. I can’t believe I was blessed with such sights.
Kofuku-ji is another one of the Seven Great Temples, like Todai-ji. It holds several beautiful pagodas and halls.
Dinner at Higashimuki Shopping Street
At the end of the day, Andy and I went to the Higashimuku Shopping Street for some food to warm our souls. It was getting quite cold at night in Nara. This street had a lot of restaurants and food so it took us a while to decide what we wanted. In the end, we went to this cute little ramen restaurant called Genkishin. The atmosphere there was nice and cozy, and the two ramens that we ordered were so delicious.
After that, as we always do, we got dessert, ice cream sundae at St. Marc Cafe. That was the perfect way to end our long day. Then we took the train back to our Airbnb in Kyoto.