On our third day in Osaka, we decided to take a day trip to Nara to see old temples and town. Nara prefecture is located right next Osaka and Kyoto, about an hour by train, so you can easily get there if you are traveling around the area! The old capital was once located here in 710 A.D., so you will see plenty of temples and old streets in this city.
We took Kintetsu Nara line from our nearest station and got off at Kintetsu Nara Station. Todaiji temple was about 20 minutes walk from the station. Here you will see the giant statue of Buddha inside the main hall, the biggest bronze statue in the world. You can tell from the picture how big the hall is – all of the people look small! Not only the statue, but you can also see model that shows how this old capital looked like in 8th century, before the capital is moved to Kyoto. The admission was ¥500 for adults.
On the way to the Todaiji temple, we passed street vendors lining along the street. So we decided to come back there to have lunch – we had Yakisoba noodles and shaved ice (I know it’s lunch but… Who cares? Lol) The noodle was ¥500/pack, and the shaved ice was ¥300/1 cup (picture above), which you can put variety of syrups as much as you want – strawberry, blue Hawaii, lemon, melon and more. Make sure you watch your food carefully: deers are always waiting for you to accidentally drop something!!
12:30 Nara Park
In nara park you can find countless deers everywhere – they’re just lying down on the ground here and there, eating Shika sembei (deer rice crackers) that people feed, and sometimes (or like always) targeting human food. And famous tourist attractions such as Todaiji temple and Kofukuji temple are all inside the park. We were surround by bunch of deers when we were having lunch, but luckily we protected our food. It is probably one of the only places where you can see this many Wild deers (thousands of them!)
The Kofukuji temple is also inside the Nara park, and just 5 minutes walk from the Todaiji temple. This temple is famous for the five- story pagoda, which you can find east side of the temple area. Unfortunately the main hall was closed for construction, so we just took bunch of pictures of the pagoda. (like many of them) The entrance fee was free.
After we got the perfect angle of five story pagoda, we walked back toward the station and checked Naramachi area, where you can see old streets and machiya, the traditional Japanese style houses. (picture above) Some of them are still residences, and others are restaurants and stores. As we walked down the street, it was as if we were living in the old times!
15:00 Heijo Palace
We took a Gurutto Bus (a loop line bus) from JR Nara station, and headed to Heijo Palace ruins located in the west part of the city. Unfortunately there was just a replica of two gates in the north and south, and other than that it was a vast land continues all the way down. There seemed like a museum but it was closed on that day. So we decided to take a bus and come back to the east part of the city.
We saw temples and park, what else we can see? – Gardens! They will never be the same if you see one in Kyoto or any other part of Japan: they are all unique and different. (because it basically was someone’s garden in the past) We went to Isuien, located near the Todaiji temple. As we walked in, we saw this big pond in the middle, surrounded by rocks and trees around. You can see how well-maintained the garden is – all the trees are neatly cut in a shape, beautiful pebble path around the pond and more. The entrance fee was ¥900 for adults. (I think it’s worth the price)
As we got out from the Isuien, we saw a sign saying “Free for foreigners” in front of the entrance to another garden. (we didn’t even notice!) We decided to go inside and check it out because we always appreciate all the free stuff… 😀 (my boyfriend is Canadian) The entrance fee was ¥250/person for Japanese, and free for foreigners. This garden was smaller then Isuien but also really beautiful – pine trees, flowers and ponds.
18:15 Floating Garden Observatory
We came back from Nara in the evening, and headed to Floating Garden Observatory to see sunset. It was about 10 minutes walk from Osaka Station. From the top you can enjoy 360 degree of the view – trains and roads with full of people, skyscraper buildings around the observatory, and airplanes taking off and landing to the airport in the distance. We waited for the sun to set and headed for dinner.
We went down to the first floor of the basement, and found an izakaya on the floor. We all sat at the counter and ordered food. Started with beer, to sashimi, tempura, fried squids and bunch of other small dishes – they were all so delicious and by the time we finished our dinner, it was around ¥5000 in total. (completely over the budget as always haha) But the good food always makes us happy so it was totally worth it.
Our itinerary will be continued to the Kyoto Itinerary Part 1, so stay tuned for it! For more information of each places above, check out my previous post on Day Trip to Nara: Kyoto/Osaka Day Trips!