Next to Kyoto is Nara, the place known for deer. When you travel, sometimes the best moments are falling asleep on a slow moving train. Get all your rest because you’re going to need it on the 45 minute journey from Kyoto. Make sure you wear some comfy shoes because you’ll be walking around a lot. While Kyoto is crawling with people, I made the best Nara itinerary for an action packed day.
Autumn caught up with Kyushu as we walked around Nara and searched for Japanese gardens. First, we encountered the Buddhist Kofukuji Temple. The pagoda was one of the adorning pieces… Alongside random deer.
We accidentally took a detour and ended up close to Todaiji Temple where we encountered a plethora of deer scouting for deer crackers. There were so many everywhere and while they are considered “wild” they seemed pretty tame unless it comes to their crackers.
I am easily amused and I knew I would be able to entertain myself strolling the gardens. I was right as my favorite garden was Isuien. I had to pay about ¥600 to enter but it was worth it. The garden was beautifully maintained and I could see the color change in the trees as autumn slowly swayed the scenery. The garden boasted tea houses and former residences of prominent Japanese figures and I enjoyed cooler weather in the shade.
The Yoshiken Garden next door to Isuien is free to everyone. While the garden was beautiful, it wasn’t my favorite; however, it’s worth seeing! Free is good anywhere.
Kasuga Shinto Shrine
We still weren’t finished with Nara and continued walking to the Kasuga Shinto Shrine not far from Todaiji. I loved the lanterns guiding the way and we were fortunate enough to see a Shinto Priest perform a ritual to a fallen emperor.
Last stop on my list was the Shinyakushiji Temple. This place was the former residence of a dying emperor. Inside the temple, there are twelve statues of the heavenly generals all guarding Buddha in the middle.
Having walked the majority of Nara, my companions I were tired and rested our feet in the small sanctuary. While there was not much to see, I would definitely call it a small jewel as we watched fellow travelers light candles.
This is the best part because you’ll never know what you’ll find. After resting your tired feet for a good while at the temple, you may hear some drums banging in the distance. If you have a curious vagabond spirit like I do, take off wherever your heart sends you. Thanks to my curiosity, I discovered it was the Autumn Festival at the Shinyakushiji caretaker residence. My friends and I were given warm sake and gifts.
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