NARA: Walk With Me, Deer!

About My Japan Trip

I am lying on my bed at the beginning of 2015’s Autumn, remembering my first exposure to Autumnal breeze at the end of Japanese Autumn. I went on a-week-long trip to Japan and was exposed to a whole different culture and a pleasant weather experience.

My Japan trip was, at first, purely dedicated to “leveling-up” my passport. The definition sounds odd itself; but, in fact, when your country’s passport is ranked at number 66 being able to access only 51 countries without applying for visa, you have to think of a strategy to “level up” your passport. So I decided to travel to G7 countries (formerly G8 countries, bye bye Russia), Japan is the most easiest one and affordable for tourist. After a bunch of procedures, I made my way to Japan at the beginning of November, 2014. Passport level has just been “leveled-up.” Congrats.

But every journey is a gift.

Having my passport with Japanese visa on it doesn’t make me happier than exploring Japan.

You might have seen my video of my Japan trip, or my ice-cream adventure across Japan; but you haven’t known the detail story of my adventure. So here is a quick glance of my journey in Japan.

Spending 6 days in Japan, firstly I made it to Kansai International Airport then moved to Nara, the ancient city, the first capital city of Japan. Then, my Japanese journey began. Please excuse me if I use present tense in the below paragraphs, because I truly feel like living those days again. This post is just to cover the time I spent in Nara. Other posts will come along soon.

NARA – Day 1 in Japan

Transportation

I take the bus with KATE bus line, which is cheap (2,050 Yen/turn) and has multiple timetable, to transit from KIX to Nara. My itinerary today is to explore the iconic Todai-ji Temple of Nara and then go back to Osaka. So I arrive at Kintestsu Nara Station, which is only 1.8 km from Nara Park to enter the temple.

Fare: 

One way: 2,050 Yen

Round trip: 2,500 Yen – valid for one day, 3,900 Yen – valid for 14 consecutive day

Nara Deer Park

Oh deer, a model!
Oh deer, a model!

But first, you cannot enter the temple without passing these mild and tranquil animals: deer. The park is a huge area comprises of the public park, Todai-ji Temple and Nara National Museum. Nara Park is home of of 1,200 shika deers which are considered as “natural treasure.” These deers roam freely in the park area and sometimes onto the main road. You might see a lot of signpost with deer silhouette, signaling deer roaming area for vehicles to drive slow and to be watchful.

Oh deer, you're so photogenic!
Oh deer, you’re so photogenic!

The main activity in the park besides chilling, sunbathing, sightseeing, is deer feeding. With 150 Yen, I buy a pack of crackers specialized for these shika deers. They are so friendly and would let visitors touch them and whenever they see someone with a pack of cracker, they will follow. Best chance for photos!

An autumnal walk.
An autumnal walk.
Hi, deer!
Hi, deer!
Beautiful, deer!
Beautiful, deer!

What I like best of the park is that I can be near with animals, who are uncaged and free. In fact, I can interact with all these beautiful furry and cute animals. I love the zoo, but seeing the animals living in a small replication of their habitat is just too painful to watch. I embrace Japanese love for animals, their care for these shika deers are thoughtful. This is a society I yearn for, a harmony between people and animal.

Todai-ji Temple

Nandaimon Gate.
Nandaimon Gate.
Me, and the Nandaimon Gate.
Me, and the Nandaimon Gate.

From Nara Deer Park, I have to pass the Nandaimon Gate, leftward of the park entrance, a large wooden gate watched over by two fierce looking statues. Representing the Nio Guardian Kings, the statues are designated national treasures together with the gate itself.

Todai-ji Temple on a clear day.
Todai-ji Temple on a clear day.

Then I make it to Todai-ji Temple, buying 500-Yen-ticket to enter.

Entering the temple.
Entering the temple.

Todai-ji is the largest wooden temple in the world. It’s like the national treasure of Japan and the iconic structure of Nara, which was built in 752.

Kindergarten kids waiting in line for school field trip.
Pupils waiting in line for school field trip.
Miniature model of the temple inside the temple itself.
Miniature model of the temple inside the temple itself.
A metallic decoration in Todai-ji temple.
A metallic decoration in Todai-ji temple.

In the temple, you will see a 51-feet-tall statue of Buddha. You will see some wooden pillars that have hole for you to crawl inside and out. Some souvenir shops can be found here as well.

Drinking from these pong.
Drinking from these pong.
Fresh underground water, for blessing.
Fresh underground water, for blessing.

Upon departing the temple, a guide tells me to try the fresh underground water pumped from the well of the temple. It is so fresh and has mineral taste.

Opening hours:
Hours 8:00 to 16:30 (November to February)
8:00 to 17:00 (March)
7:30 to 17:30 (April to September)
7:30 to 17:00 (October)
No closing days
Fees: 500 yen

Leaf Viewing

Leaf viewing is so boring. Joking, I LOVE it.
Leaf viewing is so boring. Joking, I LOVE it.

Because it’s autumn in Japan, you cannot miss this activity of leaf viewing. I believe many of my readers have seen at least once in their life time, but to me, leaf viewing is something I cannot take for granted. Being born in a tropical country, I never have a chance to see leaves turning yellow and red like in Japan. I know, at some point, I will travel to another country in the northern hemisphere and contemplate the leaves changing their color again; but it can never be the same. I hold my Canon Kiss X5 tightly, ready to get any photos possible of the autumnal surroundings. Along the road to Japan autumn, I cannot put down one second my camera because the trees are different in size, in shape, in silhouette, in color shade. I capture them all. That is, precisely, my obsession for autumn.

Autumn scenery makes my heart pumped.
Autumn scenery makes my heart pumped.
Autumn is so boring. It's so colorful.
Autumn is so boring. It’s so colorful.

Red Leaves

Again, autumn is boring!
Again, autumn is boring!

Food

Beautiful bento for lunch.
Beautiful bento for lunch.

Cannot forget this important part, even when I am so busy capturing photos, petting the deers. I just stop by a random restaurant by the way out of Nara Park and call for myself a beautiful bento for lunch. Another thing I admire Japanese culture is their artistry in every thing, especially food. I cannot say these food are the best taste in the world, but the food is bewilderingly beautiful to the eyes that I am full just looking at it.

Full and ready, it’s time to head back to Osaka and finish off my first day in Japan.

Nara has been a wonderful experience when I am able to explore the food, the autumn, the nature and the historical architecture of Japan, all hint a promising ending in Japan.

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