Nara is a city just near Kyoto and can be done as a day trip if you are on a limited time. Hopping off from Nara station, we did a quick 20min walk to Nara park. At the entrance, you will be met by a herd of deers. The deers are believed to be protectors of the temple and hence roam free around the grounds. They are domesticated and the antlers are maintained smooth so they won’t be able to harm anyone. When the deers see you holding a cookie (available at the temple), some do a bow before taking a bite. It was funny and amusing. Some of the deers may bump you or nibble your clothes,too. Before you begin your journey, I suggest you get the free map offered at the entrance.
Surpassing the Nara Park, you walk into the forest led by a path of these stone structures called “lanterns” towards Kasuga Shrine. You typically see a few lanterns in other temples, but in Nara I saw a lot of them, all in rows leading to the temple. In fact, the oldest stone lanterns can be found here in Nara! Stone lanterns are built commonly near shrines and temples, funded by individuals and families (you will see description in each lantern) and then has been popularized to be found in wealthy homes. There are also copper or bronze lanterns you will see hanging under temple roofs.
When you are finished with your stop at Kasuga Shrine, you then walk towards Nigatsu-do Hall. When you reach this location, I suggest go up at the viewdeck in Nigatsu-do Hall. The view atop was breathtaking for me. You will have a wonderful glimpse ofthe temples below and the city ahead. This was one of my favorite spots.
After enjoying your walk and ancient appreciation of Kasuga Shrine and Nigatsudo Hall, the last stop is the grandious Todaiji Temple, the largest wooden structure ever built in the world! In pictures, it looks average in size but when you are actually there, its HUGE!! Upon entering you will see this reaalllly big buddha to greet you. The building’s interiors are as amusing and beautiful as the exteriors.
Thanks for reading!
How to get there:
Ride a train towards JR Nara Station
What to see: (all within walking distance)
Nara Park – open24 hours – FREE visit
Toshodaiji Temple – 8:30-4:30pm – FREE
Kasuga Shrine- 6:00am-6:00pm – FREE in some parts of the shrine
Todaiji Temple- entrance fee 1500yen (Todaiji museum + Daibutsuden/Buddha Hall)