Besides exploring the beautiful Nara deer park and Todaiji temple, we also explored Nara as a city whilst travelling in 2017. The word quaint comes to mind when thinking about Nara. The city is tiny compared to the likes of the capital of Tokyo.
We were fortunate to be in a prime location in Nara. The hotel we staying in was named Hotel Pagoda and was right next to the Deer park and the pagoda (hence the hotels name) and it was also a two minute walk to the shops when we wanted to wander the city.
When heading over to the shops we went past a lovely pond which had turtles swimming in it and birds perched on pieces of wood. We often stopped by the pond and just took it all in plus it was so fun to watch the turtles just living their lives. I love turtles!
Nara as a whole is a great place to visit. It has all the necessities and shops include everything from convenience stores to a McDonalds. There is plenty to explore.
Near the pond you can head one way and visit the busier, more city like area of Nara and then if you head in the other direction then you can go to a more quieter area full of beautiful houses and winding backstreets. On one of the days we spent in Nara we decided to head to the more quieter side of the area. We found this small temple which we visited early in the morning and it was extremely quiet there which was lovely and tranquil. I think there was only me, my parents and about four other locals in the temple and we saw some of the other visitors praying. I don’t know why but it’s just really nice to see locals just going about their day with these things as I feel like I’m getting to see some authentic Japanese culture. That probably sounds weird but yeah, it’s cool.
After the temple visit we wandered the quiet roads and came across a sake brewery and we decided to go in and check it out. At the time I was still a minor in Japan so I basically sat in the brewery drinking water and watching my parents taste different types of sake. I don’t like alcohol anyway so I didn’t feel I was missing much. My parents enjoyed the experience and it was a nice way to spend half and hour or so. I think if you enjoy alcohol and are of legal age then visiting a brewery could be a lot of fun (drink responsibly kids).
Whilst exploring around the brewery we also discovered a little bug friend. I love animals and so I find most animals adorable even if others don’t. So if you hate bugs then skip over the next photo. My dad noticed a women trying to help a praying mantis who was in the middle of the road. My dad decided to go over and help and we put the little fella in some bushes on the side of the road. Getting to see animals like deer, turtles and praying mantis up close outside and in their natural habitat was such a fun thing to see.
One thing I love about Nara is that it’s such a unique mixture of nature, wildlife and more urban life. You can be looking at deers and turtles one minute and then be sat in a McDonalds the next. That’s not something you can find in a major city like Tokyo or Kyoto and it just brings a cosy feeling to the place. I’d love to visit Nara again in the future.