Nara: Temples and Deer

Nara, the first capital of Japan back in 710 but today, it is known for the deer roaming around and the Buddhist monasteries. Since it is about one hour train ride away from Osaka, I went there for a day trip on my previous trip to Japan.

It was autumn time and the Nara park was stunningly beautiful with autumn colors and with deer roaming around the park, grazing leisurely, it is pretty difficult not to fell in love with. It is crowded around Todaiji or Omizutori temple but once you go into the vast Nara park and beyond, you can easily find tranquility. Deer are regarded in Shinto as messengers to gods and been a symbol of Nara, you can find them roaming around freely. The deer are surprisingly tame and used to the people, so you can approach them easily.

If you are up for a hike, you can go over to Mount Wakakusayama behind the Nara park for a great view over to Nara town. This part is a much quieter place as you either drive or hike for about 50 minutes.

View from Mount Wakakusayama
View from Mount Wakakusayama
Udon restaurant in traditional setting
Udon restaurant in traditional setting

After all the walking, I went for lunch at a roadside shop for vegetable udon. It was easily a highlight of my visit to Nara, sitting out by the traditional Japanese style shop, sipping green tea slowly over the mountain breeze.
It was quite a surreal experience; amidst all the noises and business of a tourist town, you can still find peace and nature if you know where to look for. The deer were still roaming around the shop by the ravine searching for a grazing spot.

All in all, it was a great day trip. I mentally prepared myself before visiting because I know that Nara is a very popular travel destination; overwhelmed by the amount of people while I was there. Yet, I found some peace and tranquility among all these.


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