Nara is very dear to my own heart (no pun intended.) We have lived here for over a year now, and it’s never failed to be anything but gorgeous and peaceful.
Nara is a popular prefecture within Japan itself, but it doesn’t get a lot of press back in the U.S. Before we moved here, I had never heard of Nara. I remember looking at the Facebook page of the school I was going to work in and reading “Nara.” I thought, okay, but it’s still in Japan, right? I knew basically nothing about the prefectures and had never heard of any outside of the major and popular prefectures.
Nara is full of history and tradition, being the capital of Japan for almost 75 years. They are known for the many “tame, wild” deer the roam the prefecture, as well as housing one of extremely large statues of Buddha prevalent in Japan. It is mountainous and beautiful with sprawling green fields of rice and mountains separating it from all the bustle of Osaka. It’s still busy here, still Japan, but it’s quieter. An older population gives it a bit of a reverent hush that you can hear if you stop for just a moment and listen.
Since we do live here, I have been able to visit a lot of the different attractions in Nara. I still haven’t even come close to visiting them all, but here are a few of my favorites.
Nara Park is massive. We have gone at least five times since we moved here, and we still haven’t been able to see everything there is to see. The park itself is big enough, but it also houses several temples and museums.
The deer are a lot of fun to see. Nara Park advertises them as tame, wild deer. They love to come up to you and see if you have food. In the spring, you can see a the fawns learning the ropes from their parents.
The deer snacks are really cheap, costing only about $1.50 per pack, but make sure you are prepared. If you actually have food they will headbutt you and chew on your clothes until you give it to them.
Todaiji Temple (Big Buddha)
The sheer size of this temple alone is amazing. It’s surrounded by an enormous, landscaped lawn and holds a the largest bronze Buddha in the world. It’s been around since the 700’s and is still worshiped today. It’s definitely worth seeing for all the history behind it. Plus, it’s in Nara Park, so if you’re already there to see the deer it’s a great destination!
Ikomasanjo Amusement Park
This place is a little more fun. It’s so classic and strange. It’s a little amusement park on the top of the mountain. You ride up a cable car that is first a dog or a cat and then you change to one decorated like a cake. You get there, you buy tickets for whichever rides you want to try. The best part, I think, is the amazing view.
Because there’s just so much to do in Nara, I definitely expect that you will see another post on this amazing place. For today, I’ll go ahead and wrap it up!
If you were able to come to Nara, which one of these places would you want to visit?