21 August 2018 Nara, Nara Prefecture, Japan

NARA TRAVEL GUIDE 奈良之旅

NARA TRAVEL GUIDE 奈良之旅

Readers has been questioning me when do I blog about my Japan trip. Well, I try my best to complete them one-by-one because there are tons of photos and video that I'm gonna edit. Lol. So I blog about Nara first since I took the least photos here so easier for me to edit and write. Nara Travel Guide (this post) will be talk about the attractions / things to do, food and some of my personal thoughts in Nara. This post is more into Nara half-day trip or one day trip instead of a few days. 

Nara is the capital of Japan’s Nara Prefecture, in south-central Honshu (located in the Kansai region of Japan), bordering Kyoto Prefecture. The city has significant temples and artwork dating to the 8th century, when it was Japan’s capital. 

Fiveran



Breakfast @ Fiveran

We are actually heading to Nara from Kyoto. So before we check-out our hotel in Kyoto, we decided to take our breakfast before we have the energy to carry our big luggages.

There is a beautiful bakery just located at the same row with our hotel. So we decided to drop by to have some breakfast.
Fiveran

Frankly, its exterior attracted me to enter. How I wish there's a similar exterior of bakery in Malaysia so I can drop by everyday to buy some breakfast. I love its exterior and interior. It makes us feel so comfortable. From the outside, we are looking forward to enter the shop.

Fiveran

Once we enter the shop, the fragrance of the bread attracted us. There are so many variety and delicious looking of bread. It really took us some time to choose them because we don't know which one to choose and every single of them look delicious! By the time we took a closer up look of these bread, we already know they will be taste good even we haven't take a bite yet. Lol (Can you imagine that?)

Fiveran



Eventually, we took 4 bread as our breakfast. 2 for me and 2 for my fiance.

I had chosen the cheese and bacon (top left) and the "pizza" bread (top right).

Took a bite on them and they are so crispy at the outside and tender inside!

OMG! They are delicious! Also, the kitchen is actually transparent. You can actually have a look on how the bakers make the bread from scratch.

We had ordered coffee and tea as well.




FROM KYOTO TO NARA

FROM KYOTO TO NARA

As mentioned earlier, we will be heading to Nara from Kyoto. Easily the best way to get from Kyoto to Nara is train and there are two rail lines that connect the two cities: JR and the private Kintetsu Line. The Kintetsu is the fastest and most comfortable way to get there and also the one that we had chosen (photo shown above). Just be sure to take a direct express (tokkyu). I will recommend it for those traveling without a JR Rail Pass. If you have a JR Rail Pass, you’ll want to take the JR line.

JR Nara Line: Y690, 45 minutes by express (kaisoku), 70 minutes by local (futsu), departs from JR Kyoto Station in Kyoto and arrives at JR Nara Station in Nara

Kintetsu Nara Line: Y1110, 35 minutes by express (tokkyu), departs from Kintetsu Kyoto Station (on the south side of JR Kyoto Station) in Kyoto and arrives at Kintetsu Nara Station in Nara


ATTRACTIONS
Since we only managed to visit Nara for a half day trip. Therefore, there are only 3 attractions that I'm gonna share today which is Nara Park, Kofukuji Temple and Todaiji Temple. These attractions are the MUST VISIT when you're in Nara.
  • Nara Park
Nara Park

Nara Park is a public park located in the city of Nara, Japan, at the foot of Mount Wakakusa, established in 1880 it is one of the oldest parks in Japan. Administratively, the park is under the control of Nara Prefecture.

Nara Park

The park is home to hundreds of freely roaming deer. Considered in Shinto to be messengers of the gods, Nara's nearly 1200 deer have become a symbol of the city and have even been designated as a natural treasure. Nara's deer are surprisingly tame, although they can be aggressive if they think you will feed them. Deer crackers are for sale around the park, and some deer have learned to bow to visitors to ask to be fed.

Nara Park



As I mentioned earlier on the previous post, I'm excited to meet those deer in a close distance and I made it!

Although before I pay a visit, I read some article mentioned the deer are quite aggressive. After I pay a visit, well, not all of them. Some of the deer are quite peace and just chill (just like this one).
Nara Park

Nara Park

Nara Park

How to get there : Nara Park is a five minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station or about a 20 minute walk from JR Nara Station. Alternatively, the park can be reached by bus. There are multiple stops around the park.



While we on the way to next destination, we spot a few beautiful garden so we decided to enter and take some photos. All the gardens are so clean and beautiful! Bf keep saying this tree is nice, that tree looks great etc. Lol




We passed by a random shop and a cute bear sculpture at the outside. It was so kawaii! Also, can you spot the little one too?


  • Kofukuji Temple
Kofukuji Temple



We then head to Kofukuji Temple. Fyi, Kofukuji used to be the family temple of the Fujiwara, the most powerful family clan during much of the Nara and Heian Periods

The temple was established in Nara at the same time as the capital in 710. At the height of Fujiwara power, the temple consisted of over 150 buildings. 
Kofukuji Temple



Today a couple of buildings of great historic value remain, including a five story pagoda and a three story pagoda. At 50 meters, the five story pagoda is Japan's second tallest, just seven meters shorter than the five story pagoda at Kyoto's Toji Temple

Kofukuji's pagoda is both a landmark and symbol of Nara. It was first built in 730, and was most recently rebuilt in 1426.
Kofukuji Temple

While entrance to Kofukuji's temple grounds is free and possible around the clock, there are two areas that require paying an entrance fee: Kofukuji's National Treasure Museum and the Eastern Golden Hall. The recently renovated National Treasure Museum exhibits part of the temple's great art collection and is an absolute must-see for lovers of Buddhist art. Among the many outstanding exhibits is the three-faced, six-armed Ashura Statue, one of the most celebrated Buddhist statues in all of Japan.

Kofukuji Temple

Another pair of interesting buildings are the Northern and Southern Octagonal Halls. They both originally date back over a thousand years, and their present reconstructions were completed in 1210 and 1789 respectively. The buildings also house some of the temple's treasured artifacts, but are only open to the public a few days a year.

Kofukuji Temple




A great place for sightseeing and culture. If you love to visit historic places then you should pay a visit here.

These temples are sacred places. Therefore, we have to give some respect.


Kofukuji Temple



How to get there Kofukuji is a five minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station, or a 20 minute walk from JR Nara Station. 

Kofukuji can also be reached from JR Nara Station by clockwise running loop bus or any of the buses bound for Kasuga Taisha (5-7 minutes, 210 yen). Get off at Kencho-mae bus stop.

  •  Todaiji Temple
Todaiji Temple

Todaiji Temple



We then head to Todaiji Temple. Tōdai-ji is a Buddhist temple complex that was once one of the powerful Seven Great Temples, located in the city of Nara, Japan. 

Its Great Buddha Hall houses the world's largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana, known in Japanese as Daibutsu.

Todaiji Temple



The temple was constructed in 752 as the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan and grew so powerful that the capital was moved from Nara to Nagaoka in 784 in order to lower the temple's influence on government affairs.
Todaiji Temple



Todaiji's main hall, the Daibutsuden (Big Buddha Hall) is the world's largest wooden building, despite the fact that the present reconstruction of 1692 is only two thirds of the original temple hall's size. The massive building houses one of Japan's largest bronze statues of Buddha (Daibutsu). The 15 meters tall, seated Buddha represents Vairocana and is flanked by two Bodhisattvas.

Several smaller Buddhist statues and models of the former and current buildings are also on display in the Daibutsuden Hall. Another popular attraction is a pillar with a hole in its base that is the same size as the Daibutsu's nostril. It is said that those who can squeeze through this opening will be granted enlightenment in their next life.

How to get there : Todaiji is located in the northern part of Nara Park. It is about a 30 minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station, or about a 45 minute walk from JR Nara Station. It can also be reached by bus from either station. Get off at Todaiji Daibutsuden from where it is a 5-10 minute walk to Todaiji's main building.


FOOD
  • Maguro Koya
Maguro Koya

After visited 3 places straight, both of us feel so hungry and it's time to hunt for food! We passed by a random cuisine called Maguro Koya and we decided to pay a visit. Maguro Koya is a Tuna House that is small by name but big on flavour. It's a very short walk from Kintetsu-Nara station, and originally was not a place we were going to visit, however, we feel glad that we did because their food taste amazing.

Maguro Koya



This restaurant is operated by an elderly couple, with the elder man being the chef and the lady serving the customers.

The menu is made up of entirely Tuna as the main protein and Ootoro or pink fatty tuna being the specialty here. The dishes range from around ¥700 to ¥3,000, and whatever dish you choose it is hard to go wrong. 
Maguro Koya

I would highly recommend the Ootoro negitoro don daburu (double layer of chopped ootoro pieces with spring onion on sushi rice) if Tuna is your thing (of course it is, it’s a Tuna house!). It comes out looking like mashed raw Tuna on rice, however, just let your taste buds do the judging.

After the meals, we go pick up our luggage's and head to Osaka. Stay tuned on my blog for other travelogue. Will be updated them soon. 


SHINI'S THOUGHTS
I personally think half-day or one day trip to Nara is enough. Of course, if you ask me, I definitely wish to explore more different parts of Nara (feel free to leave a comment to let me know if you have any recommendations). For me, Nara is a historic, cultural and peaceful place. I will definitely come again someday.


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