Day 7: Nara

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We woke up today to rain. Lots and lots of rain. My day started with a quick trip to the nearest convenience store for some breakfast (melon bread and cold bottled cafe au lait) and an umbrella. For some reason, most Japanese people seem to carry around big umbrellas, the ones you could almost use as a walking cane. It’s a bit harder to find the folding, compact ones. It also makes it a bit harder to navigate narrow sidewalks and paths without accidentally bumping umbrellas with someone else. I was afraid of taking someone’s eye out, too!

Anyway, despite the weather, Katherine and I made the day trip to Nara, famous for its deer and the Todaiji Temple, which houses a giant bronze statue of the Buddha. Jr stayed behind as he still was not feeling well.

For some crazy reason, Katherine and I decided to walk from Nara Station to Nara Park, about a 20 minute walk. The first temple we stumbled across was Kofukuji Temple, which features a 5 story pagoda. It was a nice temple, but ultimately, we were distracted by the deer roaming the grounds.

Kofukuji Temple and a couple of deer that were hanging our on the grounds.

The deer are wild but are tame and stay in the park nosing around tourists for food. They are protected as sacred animals, as legend has it that they were messengers of the gods. For the most part, they’re calm and friendly, but they will try to get into your bags or pockets in search of treats. One even took a bite out of Katherine’s plastic bag!

Deer crackers (“shika-sembei”) are sold by vendors around the park. Katherine and I, of course, bought some. I went first and, fortunately, there was another group of tourists with food, too, which distracted most of the deer. This meant I fed only one deer, who took the crackers from me calmly.

After I finished and Katherine started, the other group finished, as well. The other deer then made a mad rush towards us, butting their way past each other and searching us for treats. One even bit me in the butt! My poor sister, who had crackers in hand, suffered even more than me and I barely had a chance to snap some pictures before the crackers were devoured.

Top-left and right: walking towards Kasuga-taisha. Bottom-left: feeding a deer!

We then made the rather long walk to Kasuga-taisha, a Shinto Shrine. The walk was wet due to the rain but the weather covered the forested grounds with a thin mist, giving the park a rather mystical feel.

We didn’t hang around Kasuga-taisha for long because there were some very large tour groups going through. Besides, we were starting to feel rather tired and wet.

Tea and sweets! Mine is the bottom tray. Katherine’s is the top one.

We mustered enough energy to cross the park once more to see the famous Todaiji. We made a stop at a tea restaurant for some green tea and sweets – a nice break from the walking and rain! We took our time before leaving for Todaiji.

Unsurprisingly, there were crowds of people despite the miserable weather. The temple was an amazing sight, massive in size so as to hold the great Buddha statue.

I was separated from Katherine so I took my time, trying to find her while seeing the sights. Eventually, we did reunite and made our way out of the park. This time, we opted to take a bus back to Nara Station, as we were both very tired and soaked from the rain.

Todaiji Temple.

We probably could have spent much more time in Nara but the rain made things rather miserable. I think, too, the pace of the trip is catching up to us. We have been doing a lot of walking every day…as in, at least 10km, if not more. So I think the rest of the evening will be spent relaxing. Might as well, since the rain is not expected to stop until tomorrow!

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