The journey to Nara from Osaka was arguably one of the easiest of our trip. One subway and one local train, totalling just over an hour, had us in Nara station by 12:30pm. The ticket price was 800 yen, around £6, so it wasn’t anything to grumble about.
The cloud of Osaka had been replaced by glorious sunshine in Nara, with the walk to our hostel a slightly uncomfortable one. Fortunately it was only 15 minutes away, seeing the sign as we turned a corner following an incredibly long path was a relief.
We had turned up too early to check in but fortunately Steph was able to message the owners to say we had arrived and they kindly gave us the code for the door so we could at least leave our bags in reception.
With this being our only day in Nara I was keen to grab the bull by the horns. Literally speaking there were no bulls around, but there were lots of deer; but you do not want to grab these ones.
20 minutes away from our hostel was Nara park, known most famously for its quantity of wild deer. It’s free to roam around the park and the choice is there to buy crackers to feed them, although Steph found out the hard way that they can be pretty intrusive when food is around. Feeding two decent sized male deer seemed slightly intimidating.
The park itself is stunning, with huge stretches of greenery and ponds dotted across the landscape. Deer can be seen prancing around in almost every direction. It gets busy but it’s possible to escape from the crowds for a while at least.
Nigatsudo Hall is one these opportunities. It was apparently all down to good timing. The hall is a part of Todaji temple and although it is not possible to enter, the surroundings and the view across Nara are worth the climb up the stairs. It is another beautiful example of pre-modernised Japan and an area which has been frozen in time. Apart from the vending machines, but they hardly ruin anything.
Sticking with the theme of temples and shrines, we headed up and out of the deer park and through a forest walkway. At the end of the road was the slightly hidden from view Kasugataisha. Originally built in 768 AD, the Taisha is a beautiful structure used by people for hundreds of years to worship and pray. It was deathly quiet when we arrived, but this was due to the fact it was and out to close.
We arrived just in time to take in the surroundings and catch the sunset on the walk back down to the centre of Nara. It finally felt we had a bit of luck with the weather.
After a bite to eat we visited a couple of bars for a quick drink and a game of darts for the last night with Steph’s brothers group. The Japanese lager Asahi was flowing, and only priced at 3 pounds a glass.
It was a whistle stop tour of Nara, but one Steph and myself felt we made the most of. The following morning it would be time to set off for our final destination in Japan