If you’re down in Kyoto and looking for an easy day trip then its great to head to Nara. Nara can be reached using JR Trains and so if you have a JR tourist pass it is completely free to get to!
Nara is becoming more and more famous for the deer, which roam free in parks and temples, often outstripping visitor numbers to this quiet gem!
From the station it is just a short walk to the Visitor Centre which in itself is a fantastic experience. The staff are super friendly and they run awesome free events including dressing up in traditional Japanese robes and origami sessions where you learn to make deer. Its a great start to any visit to Nara!
The staff were excellent at directing us up a large flight of stairs and into the vast grounds of the Tōdai-ji Temple. From here the deer start coming up to visitors and you are able to purchase ‘deer crackers’ (crackers made from rice, safe for deer to eat) and give the deer an afternoon snack… watch out for the ones hanging out by the sellers though, they tended to be the greedy ones and can chase you for a cracker. Although they won’t seriously injure you they will take a nibble at any lose fitting clothes you’re wearing!
It is a pleasant walk through the park with the deer to the main Tōdai-ji Temple for which you must pay a small entry fee. However, it is worth is as the temple itself is STUNNING! It houses a giant golden Buddha in the doorway, both impressive and imposing.
The grounds surrounding the temple are also beautiful and just a short climb takes you past smaller temples to one situated on top of the nearby hill, giving you a panoramic view of both Tōdai-ji Temple and surrounding Nara.
Japan is filled with exquisite temples, and if you’ve been travelling for a while, you can start to find them quite repetitive but the giant gold Buddha combined with the deer of Nara make it the perfect place to get away from the prime tourist spots and experience a blend of culture and wildlife!