I’m just going to start off by saying that Nara has been the best part of Japan I have seen so far. I imagined I would have fun and would find it enjoyable; but I never anticipated just how amazed I was going to be.
We all met at 8:30 in the morning to take the train to Nara, and it was pouring rain. We were told to wear walking shoes, but I opted for my boots over my walking shoes because I knew boots would keep my feet dry. Sometimes we just have to make sacrifices.
The journey to Nara maybe took us approximately two hours factoring in wait times for the train to arrive and bathroom breaks. When we first arrived, we were greeted by a cute little mascot of a deer, and by two of our friendly tour guides.
While we followed our tour guides out from the train station, almost in every corner was the deer mascot. Nara’s mascot was on key chains, tote bags, and even in a plush form to be purchased from just about any store.
Once we made it outside of the train station and outside of the shopping center, we instantly saw the beginning of a series of beautiful temples and one deer. While we were excited to look at the temples, I think a lot of the attention at first was aimed towards the deer we met. We were all so surprised by how friendly the deer was; that it was hard to believe that these creatures are considered a wild animals. Eventually more deer started to walk up to us and it begun to get a bit overwhelming because they kept sticking their heads by our pockets looking for food.
I personally experienced being searched by a deer for food. This one started to nip at my rain jacket pocket.
As we made our way to the temples, we were shocked to find a crowd of deer. There were so many deer, and they were all very smart. In fact, we witnessed one deer actually wait for the crosswalk sign to turn green to cross the street.
We spent quite some time getting to pet all the deer and take pictures with them. I even purchased some food for 150 Yen to give to the deer. However, the food disappeared in about a minute because one deer leaped at me and snatched the whole pack of food from my hand. I was a little disappointed but least I still got to feed him.
We eventually made our way from the deer towards the first temple we were going to visit. Once we got our entrance tickets in, we walked past the gate and saw a large beautiful temple. I was not expecting the temple to be that big.
See what I mean?
I wasn’t sure what exactly was inside the temple because I couldn’t imagine why it needed to be so huge. I honestly was expecting the inside to just be mostly empty space and maybe a few pillars and some statues….
I was wrong.
We walked down a long path to the entrance and we paused outside waiting for instructions from our tour guide. We got permission to enter and to explore on our own… And then I saw this.
Okay, the photo really doesn’t do this statue justice. But I swear, it was massive and I was dumbfounded by how it even got made. I honestly stood in the same spot for maybe around 5 minutes just staring up, trying to figure it out and mentally process the sheer size.
As I made my way around the temple, I noticed there were a few other statues of soldiers that were also huge; but not as massive as the statue that first greeted us at the entrance of the temple. I also saw some modern day replicas of the shrines themselves on display. Along with a little souvenir shop where I made a couple key chain purchases for my friends and family. They all had the deer mascot I showed earlier on them.
After visiting the large shrine, we all took a very long scenic semi-hike to another much smaller shrine. The walk was very pleasant and relaxing. It was still raining, and there were still a few deer scattered along the way. We passed by many stone pillars along the path that each had different text written on them.
I think that this was my favorite part of the Nara trip, other than the deer, getting to walk among these pillars. I enjoy rain quite a bit, and getting to experience such a tranquil environment in the rain and getting lost in my thoughts while breathing in fresh clean air soothed me. I can see while they would build a shrine here… This area is just too beautiful and peaceful for anything else. Also, seeing the moss grow on these pillars made everything seem like it came out of a storybook.
At the end of the walk, this is the small temple we were greeted with.
We all sat and hung out around the temple for 20 or so minutes before walking back down to take the shuttle bus back to the train station to go home.
After our trip to Nara, I went out with some classmates to get some lunch and to explore Kyoto.