Nara (奈良市) is a relatively small city in Japan, on Honshu Island. It’s easily reachable from Kyoto by train in just about 45 minutes, and you can squeeze the visit in a single day! So no excuses, jump on the train (well, on the plane first, actually) and go visit its amazing ancient 6 temples, also known as Nara Rokudai-ji (the 6 Great Temples of Nara).
The city has been declared patrimony of humanity by the UNESCO.
As soon as you get there, you’ll notice thousands of deers living free in the streets and parks of Nara. If you are wondering why, this will answer your question: according to a Japanese legend, God Takemikazuchi rode all the way to Nara on a white deer, in order to protect the newly built city. Therefore, nowadays deers are considered as holy animals, protecting the city. Their image is everywhere, even on manhole covers!
Some kiosks sell “shika sembei” (deer biscuits) to feed them, but buy some at your own risk: the deers will literally chase you for food! Plus, many of them are fat and unhealthy – It doesn’t really seem an appropriate feeding for wild animals. Just have fun looking at people getting scared by unexpected “deer attacks”!
The main temple, Todai-ji (東大寺), is the most remarkable one: it’s the oldest wooden building of antiquity and the biggest wooden structure in the world!
Inside, giant statues of Buddha and the Temple Guardians have been greeting the visitors for more than 1200 years. Among them, the main Buddha, also known as Daibutsu 奈良の大仏 (Great Buddha of Nara), is a 15 meters high, gilt bronze statue.
If you decide to visit Japan make sure you do it either on spring – for thefabulous flowering cherry trees – or on autumn. Look at the colors in these shots – thanks to Japanes autumns you’ll discover some shades of red and yellow you didn’t even imagine!
Before of after the visit to the Temples, spend some time in the city centre if you feel like going back to the city bustle, with its arcades, top restaurants, trendy cafes and shops.
Nara has it all!