A trip to Japan is not complete without visiting Nara. This small city used to be the ancient capital of Japan and here you can find some of the most interesting and oldest temples in the country. One of which is one of the largest wooden structures in the world, the Todai-ji Temple, while you can also find a temple there with over a thousand stone lanterns.
However, the main draw for most visitors to Nara is the large green park that is located in the center of town. This park is home to hundreds of deer that are allowed to roam freely through the area and town. The deer are friendly for the most part and they can be petted, but you have to be careful when carrying food, because they can get quite aggressive when it comes to feeding. The large number of deer really provides Nara Park with a special and unique atmosphere that compliments both the ancient temples and the deer.
When I went to Nara, I also arranged for a Student Tour Guide from the University of Nara for a day. If you have a few days in Nara, I would highly recommend doing this. You will be picked up from your hotel by a local student, who will then guide you around various places of your choice while explaining the culture and history. It’s free and a lot of fun. Our guide, Kaede, was fantastic and very friendly and nice. We had a great time with her.
While in Nara, we stayed in a very neat little local guesthouse called Yuzan. I would recommend staying here as it provides you with a great local experience and the hosts are very friendly and helpful. They also can help you find some local restaurants around the area. Also, the guesthouse is in walking distance to the train station and to Nara Park.
Our last day in Japan consisted of us just taking it very easy and relaxed. We decided to go back to Nara Park one more time and feed some deer. While we were there we went to our last temple of the trip, the shrine that features over a thousand lanterns. Its name is Kasuga Taisha and this shinto shrine is located at the far end of Nara Park. It is easily and comfortably reached walking through the park and once you are there you are greeted by many stone lanterns that line the pathways up the hill. more »