Nara is one of the prefectures in Japan’s Kansai area. We were able to make a quick side trip here during our Japan visit last August. Coming from touring Kyoto’s historical shrines & temples and Osaka’s cosmopolitan sites, we were in search for something else— something different that the Kansai area had to offer. This lead us to go to Nara to see the famous Nara Deer Park.
The Nara Deer Park isn’t your typical park. What makes this different from any other parks are the deer that are native to the place.
Allover the park are plenty of them— herds upon herds of adorable furry creatures. They roam freely around the park and are actually protected by law as national treasures.
From the Nara train station, going to the park is just about a five minute bus ride. There are special roundtrip bus tickets for tourists visiting the park that can be purchased from the station.
As the bus nears the park, you can already start spotting deer scattered in the streets. You’d be mystified at first, but after a while, they pretty much become a common sight.
The deer are used to mingling with people and you can even touch them. It’s ok to pet the deer, but it’s best to not be over confident with them as there are some rare occasions when they try to nab from your stuff thinking it has food.
Or if you’re eating, make sure to keep your food away from their reach as you would not want to tempt them. Check the warning signs posted allover.
But generally, these guys are a really friendly bunch and so fun to be around.
Another attraction to see in the park is the Todai-ji Temple. There are other temples in Nara, but for just a quick side trip, we were only able to visit the Todai-ji.
The Todai-ji Temple houses the great giant Buddha. We weren’t able to get inside the temple itself since we got there a bit just in time for closing, but we were able to enjoy the entrance and temple grounds.
What’s amazing about this temple is that everything here is really huge. The pillars that make up the entrance gates are massive columns of logs.
The entrance gates have two giant statues of Kongō Rikishi (Nio protectors of Japan according to ancient Buddhist beliefs). They’re also made of wood, painted for color.
It’s really amazing looking up the scale of these two giant statues. What’s incredible is that the entire temple complex and everything in here have been constructed during Japan’s ancient times, thousands of years before machines have been employed in building construction.
Another thing to see around the temple is a boat by the lake.
Not sure though if the boat is actually functional or just for display, but it does look majestic.
And of course…
The side trip to Nara was definitely a worthy quick-stop destination. The deer were a uniquely fun experience, and the Todai-ji Temple was something that had its own “massive” charm, different from any other temples we’ve seen in Japan so far.