Kansai Region Day 2: Nara

This is part 2 of my travels in the Kansai Region, Japan, 2013. You can read part one (Koyasan) here!

Ryochi (the guy running Koyasan Guesthouse Kokuu) makes a mean breakfast. It felt like it was too early to leave, but we had a schedule to follow – Nara was next!


With the help of the train station staff and our broken Japanese, we arrived at Nara in time for lunch. (Thanks to the awesome Timelapse Pro app, I also have a timelapse of our train journey). After checking-in at the hostel – we headed for conveyor belt sushi.

Nara's shopping street

Nara’s shopping street



T’was a fulfilling and reasonably priced lunch. My travel mates particularly enjoyed the seared beef, while I was happy with sea urchin and green tea.

Post-food walkabout led us to the mochi-pounders, who entertained us with their grunts and timed hammering.

Mad mochi

Mad mochi

How much of it is tradition, how much of it is for show? That’s a good question. It put a smile on our face for sure.

Kids… more kids… ah, finally – deer.

Somehow, Nara wasn’t just home to deer that weekend. A particular species of victory-sign wielding homo sapiens was out in full force, in what must be some mass migration. Or maybe it was some school excursion day.

They're everywhere!

They’re everywhere!

Deer were still a highlight – they seem to have a taste for donut, in addition to the crackers that were being sold. Matcha temptation abounded. We walked the park and saw the temple but didn’t step in (there’s an entrance fee).

Oh deer.

Oh deer.

Down by the lake - a break from all the deer

Down by the lake – a break from all the deer

Deer antlers have a nice velvety feel apparently.


Feeding the deer reminded us about feeding ourselves, and we went in search of a known okonomiyaki place in the shopping street. The wait was pretty worth it:

Big oknomiyaki needs big spatulas

Big oknomiyaki needs big spatulas

I like big servings and I cannot lie.

I like big servings and I cannot lie.

Oh, our hostel was pretty cool. Apparently it’s a 100-year old house, refurbished with the obligatory heated toilet seats. Complete with creaky floors and tatami mats. Good experience, but not our most restful night – still recommended for the price!

Look cool, but I've slept better.

Look cool, but I’ve slept better.

The Lowdown

Nara isn’t a big city by any means, and while we probably only explored about a quarter of it, it’s definitely do-able for a day trip. Especially if the main highlight for you is the deer – there are a few castles and museums to explore, but if those aren’t a biggie for you, it’s quite easy to blaze through Nara. As we did within half a day!

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