After visiting many prominent cities such as Osaka, Kyoto & Kobe, it is time to recharge and rediscover our inner peace by exploring the city of Nara, Japan -a serene and nature-filled city located in the northern part of Nara Prefecture, bordering Kyoto Prefecture.
As always, the first step before we head out to explore Nara is to ensure that we have ample skin coverage. Here are some basic steps we recommend before applying any makeup regime that you have:
1. Cleanse: Kyoto Komachi Matcha Beauty Facial Wash which is known for their high concentration of green tea extract that will cleanse our face, while being highly moisturising & serve to help us get rid of pigmentations
2. Toner: Hyakkaso Toner that contains natural occurring Hyaluronic acid which helps to smooth out irregularities along with it being an amazing moisturising ingredient.
3. Sunscreen: Amaranth App-C Sun Shield, an effective and portable sunscreen which we can reapply throughout our journey in Nara.
Nara makes the perfect day trip by train from connecting cities such as Osaka & Kyoto. It is considered to be one of the most calming and relaxed cities in Japan. If you are coming from Osaka, you can take the Kintetsu Nara Line that departs from Kintetsu Namba Station and alight at Kintetsu Nara Station; or if you have a JR Pass, you can take the JR Kanjo-Yamatoji Lines from JR Osaka Station and alight at JR Nara Station.
If you are coming from Kyoto, you can take the Kintetsu Nara Line that departs from Kintetsu Kyoto Station and alight at Kintetsu Nara Station. Or if you’re a JR Pass holder, you can take the JR Nara Line from JR Kyoto Station and alight at JR Nara Station.
The first stop for us to explore would definitely be Nara Park, which is famous for the numerous sika deer that roam completely wild and free. This park is completely free for entry, but some attractions within the park require a fee upon admission.
Nara Park was established in the year 1880, which is one of Japan’s oldest parks, with a huge coverage of about 660 hectares – this means walking for friends looking to explore a picturesque park filled with nature & sika deer.
One of the main attractions for Nara Park would be the Todai-Ji Temple – it is known to be the largest wooden structure in the world and is the headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism. The Vairocana Buddha (the Buddha of Light and Compassion) lies within the temple and happens to be the worlds largest bronze Buddha statue!
This temple’s interior is pretty dark, and requires our eyes to take a while to adjust to the darkness – but once we see the AD 752 gigantic bronze Buddha (approximately 15 metres), the darkness will seemingly be dispelled. Just a fun fact, in the past this Buddha underwent x-rays, and within it lies a treasure trove!
Aside from Todai-ji, we may “temple-hop” and visit other landmark attractions scattered around Noboriojicho vicinity. The historical relics as well as ancient architecture is a rather therapeutic & soothing experience.
Once we are done with “temple-hopping”, it is time for the main highlight of our Nara trip – Nara’s Deer!
Nara’s deer are highly regarded in Nara, and Japan’s folklore tells a story of タケミカズチ (Takemikazuchi), the god of thunder (Raijin) appearing on Mount Wakakusa (just uphill from Nara Park) riding a white deer. This elevated the status of all the deers inhabiting the surrounding forest – deeming them to be sacred messengers of the gods!
Up till the year 1637, harming a deer is equivalent to committing a capital offence, punishable by death – but since then this status has been removed, and are now seen as a national treasure.
Befriending a deer quickly can be done with treats. There are lots of licensed vendors selling 鹿せんべい (Shika Senbei) cracker for ¥150 which are specifically made for the deer.
However, do take caution as the deers are able to detect these crackers with their heightened sense of smell – regardless whether we keep it in our pockets or our bags – always be prepared to be approached by a herd of "cracker-craving" deers!
These deers are also known to bow, if we bow to them with food in our hand, they too, will bow to us in return– however, they may bite or get emotional if we do not feed them. We don't recommend “cheating” them as we have seen cases of crying deer, and it is not a happy sight.
Last but not least, after we are done exploring Nara Park & the various temples, it is time to hit the streets by checking out the famous handmade Nakatanidou Mochi Shop – honestly one of the best mochis that we will have in Japan! They prepare and make the mochi live, so you're able to see the hard work that goes into every single mochi made by them.
There are also a lot of small cafes that we can relax at, as well as yummy bakeries to check out – this is a great time to buy keepsakes and souvenirs for our loved ones!
Hopefully, this article has helped to highlight a slice of Nara. If you have questions or would like to know more, do let us know in the comments below!