Nara


Nara was the first permanent capital of Japan in 710. It moved later to Nagaoka and then to Kyoto. It was one of the best places I have been to in Japan, right after Kyoto. Not only because of the picturesque scenery and temples but also because of free-roaming deer that you could meet on every corner.

What to do

 

Feed the deer!

Honestly, I have spent most of my time in Nara Park trying to feed deer:) Deer were once believed to be messengers of the gods, and therefore they are allowed to wander around everywhere undisturbed. So I have spent most of my day, buying special rice crackers, feeding the animals and taking pictures.

Deer are only allowed to eat those special crackers. In many places, you could buy them just for 150 β€ŽΒ₯β€Ž.Β  The downside of it was that the second they noticed I had food in my hands, I got instantly surrounded by the whole pack until they ate it all. Funnily enough, deer did not believe I do not have more. Not until I showed them both hands empty πŸ˜€ Then they just went away!

But I found a way to make the fun last longer πŸ™‚ The second I bought the food, I hid all except one piece in the backpack, and was taking one cracker at the time.

Another cool thing about deer is that they are so well-behaved!!! When I bent my head in a bow, they responded with a bow back! And then they got a cracker πŸ˜€ Yeah; it took me a while to get a picture where we both bow to each other. But so much fun!

Some of the deer were also super smart. They knew which spots are picturesque, so they stood in that place and got all selfie hungry tourists to come to them and feed them. I was laughing so hard when I noticed it.

But they were also mischevious! One of them photobombed me when I was talking to my mom on Skype and then ate my ticket!! Bastard! πŸ˜€

It was a lot of fun walking around, and looking at how they tried to get into shops and got kicked out with a broom:D Or just pushed by the butt.

Visit temples

There are many different temples all around Nara. And while visiting all of them would be cool, I am pretty sure you would get fed up after a while. I could see way more, but I had the choice: deer or temples:D And I had way more fun feeding deer:D When I was researching online, I have tried to find temples and shrines that are one way or another unique. So below I present my list πŸ™‚

 

Todai-Ji

Todai-Ji was one of the coolest temples I have been to. It is a humongous Buddist temple complex that was the largest wooden building in the world until 1998! And that was even though; current reconstruction is only 2/3 of its original size!
It is also enlisted on the UNESCO World Heritage List. But what is even more impressive is hidden inside. There you can find the biggest bronze Buddha (Daibutsu) in the world!! It is 15m tall and weighs 500 tons!!! Two Bodhisattvas are sitting on both sides of Buddha.
Temple construction ended in 752, and its the influence grew to such a degree that it caused the capital to be moved from Nara to Nagaoka!

Kasuga-Taisha

A small hike up the hill will reward you with this impressive shrine. Kasuga – Taisha is known for hundreds of lanterns donated by worshipers. Already while approaching the shrine through the forest, I was surrounded by many stone lanterns. And cute deer, trying to get the cookies from me πŸ™‚ But upon entering the grounds, I was blown away. I discovered hundreds of bronze laters all around!! It was such a great sight for pictures!!

This shrine was also the first one to be registered by UNESCO as one of Ancient Nara’s historical monuments.

For more history, click on the link.

 

Horyuji Temple

Looking for a reason to visit this one? What about the fact that it is the oldest wooden building in the world! Founded in 607, it managed to survive until now!

The temple is another one that is listed on the UNESCO list.

For more info, click on the link.

I unfortunately did not make it there, but saw a lot of recomendations online.

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