Autumn in Nara is the best. The weather cools down during the day, you get healthy doses of cute fashion, and special fruits like persimmons are found in abundance. Fall is one of my favorite seasons and it’s the best time to travel if you love to photograph nature and the changing colors of the trees. While everyone raves about Kyoto and how awesome it is, (okay, it’s pretty awesome) Nara isn’t as crowded and the underrated hidden gem.
1. The weather is perfect.
During the day the temperature can hit anywhere between 75-80F or 23-26C. The shade from the trees provides cool relief and a nice resting spot. It’s warm enough to enjoy it and not freeze during the day. At night, the temperature gets cooler which is perfect for Japanese barbecue and Yebisu Beer.
2. The deer aren’t so smelly.
Since the humid summer heat isn’t there to make the deer and their poop smell extra fresh, it’s a perfect time to hang out at Todaiji temple with the deer. You can feed them deer crackers and have them send a message to the Gods for you. Just be careful to hide your paper maps. I had a buck try to eat mine.
3. Yoshikien and Isuien Japanese Gardens are amazing.
Coming from Chicago, I love the changing of the seasons when the leaves become a burning amber or deep purple color. The Japanese love nature and really respect it. The Isuien Garden is amazingly beautiful and a wonderful place to see the uniqueness of a Japanese garden. It costs about 600 yen to enter but it’s totally worth it. Next door to Isuien is the Yoshiken garden free to all foreign tourists. Photo sesh? I think yes!
How to get to the gardens from Todaiji temple: Exit left out of Todaiji and walk around toward the back. When you get to the path’s intersection, turn right. Follow the bend down until you see a small side street. If you walk past the お茶処ときわrestaurant, you’ve gone too far. You should see the Neiraku Art Museum on your left. If you’re handy with a cellphone, type in 〒630-8208 Nara-ken, Nara-shi, Suimonchō, 74 依水園 and it’ll take you right there!
4. Kofukuji Temple
This is a traditional Buddhist temple with stunning pagodas. The architecture of mainland reflects deeper and more earthly tones. It’s a lovely and stark contrast to the Autumn leaves.
How to get there from Nara Station: When you exit the station, make a left onto the main road Sanjo Dori. Walk down the road for about 12 minutes and follow the signs. Make a left into the grounds. Or if you’re tech savvy, use this address: Kōfuku-ji, 48 Noboriojicho, Nara, Nara Prefecture.
5. Shin Yakushiji Temple
Off the beaten path is this little temple. It’s a bit of a long walk to se it, but totally worth it. Inside are twelve Japanese generals that protect the Buddha and candles are lit for blessings. It was originally built as a getaway for an emperor suffering from an eye ailment. It’s a great resting place after a long day and the peaceful grounds help rejuvenate you.
How to get there: It’s a bit of a walk from the Kasuga Shinto Shrine. Walk through the woods until you find the main road and turn right ( follow the signs). You’ll pass a restaurant on your left and go until you see the next road. Make a left and turn left at the next intersection. If you keep walking, you’ll see the shrine on your right. If you get lost, check out this address: 〒630-8301 奈良県奈良市 高畑町１３５２.
If you walk around you’ll never know what you’ll see or who you’ll meet. After visiting Shin Yakushiji temple, I heard taiko drums. Taking off after the sounds, we came across an Autumn festival at the Kagami Shrine and were able to spin the wheel to win prizes and try sake. The people there were so nice and welcoming!
How to get there: When walking out of the temple make a right. You should see a small shrine hidden by trees. There aren’t festivities going on all the time, but I guarentee you’ll find them in the fall!
Where is your favorite place to visit in the Autumn? Any recommendations?