Using the city of Osaka as a base again for this trip, the next spotlight on Japan is the city of Nara. I was recommended to visit this city by a friend, and I’m extremely happy I took his advice. I was at the end of a 3 week snowboard trip on the island of Hokkaido, and I wanted to take the chance to explore a little more of Japan that wasn’t snow-centric.
This post is for the day-tripper looking to have a nice stroll and take in some culture and history while they’re at it.
How to get there:
For the purposes of this post, I’ll also assume you’re also hanging out in Osaka. It’s very straightforward to get to Nara from Osaka, and only really involves one transfer on the train. I left from Osaka Station on the Osaka Loop Line, and transferred to Yamatoji Line on the JR network.
Leverage the assistance of the Help Desk at any opportunity when using the trains so you don’t find yourself travelling in the opposite direction with a look of despair on your face (it didn’t happen to me, honest). I won’t tell you how to suck eggs when looking up transport, because by now you all know how Google Maps works, which will at least give you a breakdown of what trains you need to be on and when.
The trip is a around 1 hour 30 minutes, depending if you were on point with your transfer game.
After a peaceful train journey through the countryside, you now find yourself in Nara, home of temples and newspaper eating deer.
Seriously though, the deer love their printed news.
As you exit the station at JR Nara Station, east on foot towards the temple district in Nara Park. There will be tourist booklets to highlight the temple locations in the station, grab one, and get strolling. You won’t find it very difficult to find where you’re going, and in 20 minutes you’ll soon be surrounded by curious deer and towering temples and shrines.
As always with wild animals, exercise at least a modicum of caution. These deer are extremely curious, and if anticipating a feed, can get quite aggressive. There are some 1200 deer in Nara Park, and have become a symbol of the city and regarded as a national treasure.
As far as my day trip went, I travelled exclusively on foot around the entire Nara Park, visiting as many temples as I could find on the way. If you had perhaps visited Kyoto prior to this, it can be easy to get templed-out. It was a long day of walking, and extremely enriching when you just take in your surroundings.
Nara Park is just beautiful.
If temples are really your thing, just take the time to walk around the walk, get into the tree line, and just soak in the beauty of your surroundings. There’s something about the Japanese countryside that just pulls at my emotions, hence all the gushing about it above.
The deer population does not diminish as you enter the tree line in the east of the park. At any turn there is numerous faces peeking out at you looking for handouts.
So there you have it…
Like I said at the beginning, this trip was a means to get out of the cities and get into some culture, with a handful of nature and wildlife to boot. I loved getting around on foot to really take in the sights and sounds of Nara, and I highly recommend a visit if you have a day to spare and are in the south-west on the island of Honshu.
I’ve only covered what I got up to on the day, which had me walking around making friends with deer for a solid few hours. Check out this website for a bit more of a complete breakdown of the area if you want to be a bit more thorough on what to do and what to expect.
Hope you enjoyed the tour, stay tuned for more instalments as we explore more of Japan in the coming weeks.
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Happy travelling everyone.