Nara is a beautiful little town. Quiet, out of the way, and not murdered by tourists, it really is a beautiful retreat where you can experience ancient Japan in the modern era. The train here is a quick hop from Osaka, and getting around by foot is a breeze.
Arriving at the station we didn’t know what to expect; it really looked like any other town. As we walked down the main street, just off the station, we started to notice the shops were a bit more geared to antiques and writing utensils. It took us a good 20 minutes to get Nara Park. Lemme tell you something, this place is magical.
First of all… deer. Everywhere. It’s like a Disney movie. According to legend, a mythological god Takemikazuchi arrived in Nara on a white deer to guard the newly built capital of Heijō-kyō. Since then the deer have been regarded as heavenly animals, protecting the city and the country. They also love these deer biscuits that guys with carts sell. Don’t try to ride them thought. They do not like to be ridden, apparently, if you are not a god.
The park is magical. There are several shrines and museums, but the most fantastic part is just walking the paths. Stone lanterns line green paths, there are gardens pretty much everywhere, and you truly feel at total peace. At the end there is a small “love” shrine, where you can get a “magical” piece of paper that when soaked in the sacred water will show your love’s path. I can tell you this, my love’s path was the one that led me to Nara because I simply am in love with it.
Once you had your full of nature, the back roads of Nara are equally enchanting. This is an ancient city, and was the capital of Japan in the 700’s. Not too shabby. Wandering around here you will find little shops and artisans selling this and that, and some fantastic spots to eat that will make you cry tears of miso.
One thing that was super interesting were these yellow raised tiles (see above). You will find them everywhere in Japan, in the train stations, in the streets, everywhere. They’re for blind people. Yeah. So blind people can get around Japan, easier. That’s the kind of place Japan is.
In any case, blind or not, Nara is definitely not to be missed. Easy to get to, walk and see in a day. We had lot’s to see though so …
Next stop… KYOTO!
Roberto Serrini is a professional traveler who records his adventures in word, photography and film. He is a staff writer for Get Lost Magazine as well as a commercial film director and drone pilot. His work can be seen at www.robertoserrini.com where he can be contacted as well.