Compared to the last few days, this was actually a pretty full day.
On my last trip to Japan, my sister and I visited Nara, famous for its giant Buddha statue and the wild yet tame deer that roam around freely. However, when we visited, it poured rain the whole day to the point where my shoes got ruined and I had to throw them away. So, for this trip, I was determined to go back and hopefully with better weather!
I left early but even then, the time it took to get to Kyoto Station was significant, so I did not reach Nara until maybe 10:30 am. I took a similar route to last time, beginning with Kofukuji Temple, although the temple itself isn’t too noteworthy as far as temples go. There were a few, but not many, deer wandering around, so it was pretty quiet.
After, the famous Todaiji Temple was next. As usual, there were a lot of deer nosing tourists for deer crackers, which are sold everywhere in Nara Park. I had skipped breakfast myself so I treated myself to some mitarashi dango, which one deer still tried to eat from my hand! Once I finished my food, I bought deer crackers and fed the deer. There is a trick where you bow to a deer and it’ll bow back but I was being harassed by so many deer at once that it was impossible to do (later, I did manage to do it with a lone deer!)
Anyway, once all the crackers were gone, I moved on to the Buddha statue itself. Nothing about it had really changed, although it wasn’t as crowded, and the inside of the temple itself had less to see and do than last time. For example, last time, they were raising funds to do some renovation work on the temple, so you could pay to paint your name and a wish on a roof tile to be used later. It was not there anymore, or at least not today.
I was pretty hungry at this point so I stopped for lunch – soba noodles and tempura.
Then I made my way through the lantern-lined path to Kasuga Taisha. We had skipped it the last time undue to the rain and the fact that we arrived the same time as about 2 or 3 bus tour groups. This time, it was chilly but sunny, and not as any tourists. The shrine has lots and lots of lanterns, including a small room with many that are lit up (with electric lights, haha).
By the time of finished going through Kasuga Taisha, it was about 2 pm, so I walked back to the JR Station to take the train back to Kyoto.
In Kyoto, I returned to Higashiyama and did some souvenir shopping. Then I started to think about what to eat for dinner and settled on sushi, particular conveyor belt sushi,which j have been wanting to try for a while now. I found a place called Chojiro with Google, and as I made my way there, I stumbled onto a quaint street lined with traditional looking restaurants with posters featuring a maiko (apprentice geisha) on them. I had accidentally found myself in Gion, the most famous geisha district! There was nothing to actually see or do, though, so I did not linger.
I did eventually find the kaiten sushi restaurant and had a fantastic meal. The iPad used to order food not on the conveyor belt is able to display the menu in multiple languages, including English, and the staff had good English skills and were super helpful, so it was easy. I loved it all and even got to try otoro tuna (fatty tuna) sushi. It was pricey (over ¥800 for two nigiri pieces) but worth the try. I finished off my meal with a small yogurt and custard with strawberries dessert.
Feeling full and having bags of souvenirs to carry, I set out to return to my hostel. Finding the correct bus stop was, again, a bit of a mission, but I eventually managed it and returned to m y hostel.
When I got to my room, one of my roommates was eating dinner. She speaks good English and learned she is interested in Middle Eastern culture and Islam, which I found surprising. I never thought I’d find a young Japanese person interested in that. The usual foreign interests are usually Europe or the U.S. We talked a bit about each other’s countries and about our travels, and then I had to do some laundry and shower and get ready for bed. Tomorrow will be another long day.