Thursday, 2 June 2016

Week 7.2 - Nara

We left the city of temples to arrive in the home of the holy deer. 40 minutes on an express train and we found our new home in Nara. The Nara Backpackers hostel is an old tea house which is over 100 years old. Converted into a beautiful guesthouse, you can still enjoy the wooden beams, central garden and open fire places…though they don’t need to be turned on, it was over 30 degrees when we arrived (not pleasant with your backpack on).

After leaving our bags at the hostel we made our way to Nara park. The amount of deer is overwhelming, they fill the park, walk on the pavements and cross over the road…as these are classed as holy deer, drivers have to take great care when passing. For 150 yen you can buy some deer crackers, and man do they know when you’ve got some. It was hilarious watching people being chased around the park by the deer for the crackers, some are polite enough to bow to you for a cracker, others will jump up, nip you or pull your clothing for a little bite of a biscuit! 

On out first evening we headed out for tea and managed to get a delicious meal for less than £5 each, a first for Japan. Whilst out we saw Japan’s version of One Direction performing outside the train station, the little fan girls were loving their dance moves. I could tell that Kyle secretly wanted to join in too!

Got a message from my mum regarding the dreaded student loan. So because I didn’t tell them I was leaving the country, they are now saying they’d like £300 a month unless I can prove I’m not earning. They’d also like an itinerary for the next year, well so would I but it aint gonna happen! So this is a dilemma that my trusty mum can help solve Im sure.

Anyway, on day 2, after a cheeky lie in (the first in ages), we took a causal stroll around Nara park. True to form, we were stopped by lots of Japanese students to assist with their English, only this time we were gifted with origami birds and notes about their school, as a thank you for our help.

Our first stop was the Yoshikien garden, filled with beautiful flowers, tea houses, trees, ponds and tadpoles. Kyle even tried to play hide and seek, but the bright blue “brah” cap which is permanently attached to his head gave him away. Next we went to the Todaiji temple, the most impressive we have seen so far. The temple is guarded by giant statues, and surrounded by holy deer. Once inside you are greeted by the Daibutsu, Great Buddha to me and you, which stands at an impressive 48.74 meters tall. In 1709 this temple was scaled down to two thirds of its original size, but is still the largest wooden structure in the world. 

Next we went to the Kasuga Taisha shrine. The paths to this shrine are lined with over 2000 stone lanterns, and if you look closely enough you can see the baby deers hiding behind and in-between them. It was nice to get lost in the forest and grounds of Nara park, and take it easy for a day. Nara is quickly becoming one of my favourite stops in Japan.

Kyle decided on day 2 that after almost 2 months of travelling, that it was time to get a hair cut and brave a salon in Japan. Things started pretty well, Kyle told the barber that he wanted a number one on the sides and a trim on the top, to which he received a nod in understanding. As they got talking about football and Manchester United, the guy seemed to be hacking away quite a lot at Kyle’s precious hair. Safe to say he ended up with a hair cut much shorter than he anticipated. It looks good, but maybe he should of asked his fellow UTD fan for a David Beckham?

On our final day in Nara we headed back to the park to feed the deer. Or Kyle did anyway, after watching Bambi jump up at him and nip his fingers I was too chicken shit to give it a go. They really are beautiful animals but quite scary when they know you’ve got food.

Tonight we will feast on camembert, olives, bread and doritos…a real taste of home, just a shame that we forgot the wine to go with it. In the morning we will head to Osaka. Again I will be sad to leave Nara, I have become as attached to here as we did Hakone. The hostel staff have been some of the nicest people we have met, it has been a pleasure to chat with them and swap stories about our home towns. Plus the over all feel to Nara is relaxed and gentle, a slow pace which we have much needed….I will be keen to return.

Love Carrie xxx

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