Although Nara has 8 temples and shrines as well as some ancient ruins and a lovely traditional area, it is more known for its deers :) I won’t blame its fame as it was one of the things that most attracted us to visit Nara in the first place!
We had read about the deers and the temple complex, so we thought it was going to be something similar to Nikko, which is a rather small town with the huge temple complex on top of it. Nara looks a lot bigger than Nikko, the first impression is that you are in fact in a city not a town, and that you will have to walk a lot to get there. Well, the walk is not so long, but it is certainly a city feeling; they even have a huge Information Center in the street that leads to the temple complex.
When we stopped in the Information Center we were complimented with a map of the area, and recommended to visit also the traditional areas of the city. The enchanting lady in the center complained that lots of visitors only came to Nara for the temples but they missed a beautiful city center that could compete with Kyoto in beauty (she was an enthusiast of the city!). As you will see in our last pictures, we took her advice and visited the city as well, lovely stores (a little overpriced) and houses.
The complex of Nara is a big one, so be prepared to walk between temples a lot more than in Nikko, which is more compact. Given that we are very slow visitors (we stop to take pictures all the time :P) we decided that it was best to skip the National Museum (too crowded) and to choose 2 places to visit: the Todai-ji temple and the Kasuga-taisha shrine, to then simply enjoy the walk between them.
The Todai-ji is one of those visits that, although it is completely packed with people around, it leaves you out of breath. The building holds the largest Buddha of Japan (inside a temple) and its presence is incredible; there is not any picture that can show how it is to be standing next to the figure, so we are not including our attempts here :)
The walk to the Kasuga-taisha shrine gives you a hint of what you will find; the lanterns are everywhere. While in the path there are stone lanterns, inside the temple the lanterns become smaller, metallic and are hanging from the ceilings. The thousands of bronze lamps along the corridors of the shrine are only lit twice a year at the Setsubun Mantoro in February and the Obon Mantoro in August. It must be an amazing sight! If any of you have experienced it, please tell! :)
Hope you enjoy our Nara pictures and forgive our deer madness! :)
Deers in Nara run freely along all the complex, wherever they like, as they are believed to be the sacred messengers of gods.
The Todai-ji temple is very impressive with the giant golden horns on top
Two beautiful couples dressed in traditional clothes for their visit to the temple. Can you spot the iphone in one girl’s hand? The perfect Japanese combination of modern and traditional :)
The deer headbands were a blast among the visitors
I missed one for myself, so I had to arrange an alternative
We bought the yummiest sweet potato, but we did not expect the “adverse” result: its price 10€ per piece, and every deer chasing us for food :)
We couldn’t resist to buy a cookie pack to feed the deer. Dani had his eye on that little one.
Chased by deers, no complains here :)
A store-restaurant, in the traditional city center of Nara, that only sold cat related products!
A pet store with the cutest wood sign.