If you’re looking to have a chill day and escape the hustle and bustle of Japan, Nara is the perfect place to slow down and experience Japan’s most ancient past. Nara, now a world heritage site was the capital of Japan between 710 to 794 AD and when anyone thinks of Nara, they think of its tame deer ranging freely in the city. In my opinion, Nara should be a stop in your itinerary after Tokyo and Kyoto and can easily be visited on a day trip from Kyoto or Osaka.
There are many things to do here, but two great ones for your afternoon are:
Visit the Todai-ji (東大寺, Eastern Great Temple)
This is a beyond than monumental Buddhist temple complex. You will have a hard time missing the main hall of the ancient temple founded in 728 AD. What you see today, is a reconstruction dating back to 1709 AD, which is 30 percent smaller than the original. Even in that state, it held the title of the largest wooden building in the world until 1998.
Inside you will find the biggest bronze Buddha in the world. The so-called Daibutsu is almost 15 meters high and weighs over 500 tons. Believe it or not, but it was finished in 752 AD and almost bankrupted Japan’s economy at that time. So if you were wondering what to see in Nara and if it was worth it, I hope I already got you convinced.
Visit Nara Park to feed the deer
Entering Nara Park is free for everyone and is open 24 hours, 7 days a week! In fact, you really should not think of it as a park, and rather parts of the city where you can walk around freely. Just buy some deer cookies from one of the many street vendors and enjoy your time with these majestic animals. Also, as you wonder about, be sure to note that some of the temples within the park will charge a small fee.
How cute was this photobomb? The deer can be so sweet but sometimes can get a little too eager – so be sure to surrender your cookies if they all come to you at once! I advise this because I got bitten on my bum. Yes! My bum. Haha. And as always, be sure to let me know how your experience goes.