Day 6: Day trip to Nara

Today we planned to do a half day-trip to Nara, the ancient capital of Japan. Austin had another video interview this morning, so I set off ahead of him to see Fushimi Inari Shrine on the way. JR Inari Station on the JR Nara line is literally 10 metres away from Fushimi Inari, making it a super easy pit stop. I even summoned up my very limited knowledge of Japanese to ask for an Eki stamp. Nearly every single station in Japan has its own special Eki stamp, and collecting these stamps is a big hobby here. You can even buy special books designed for collecting the stamps! Some self-service near the station gates, but sometimes you need to ask the station staff for it as they keep it in the ticket booth. I only started noticing them when we got to Kyoto, but I have a couple already! Below is the stamp for JR Inari Station, depicting Fushimi Inari.

Fushimi Inari was swarming with tourists, even at 10.00AM. It’s famous for it’s thousands of bright orange/red gates, and definitely didn’t disappoint even with the crushing crowds. It’s a little hard to take nice photos though when you’re pressed between hundreds of tourists…

After visiting the shrine and going on a short walk through the “main” gates, I headed back to Inari Station to meet Austin and continue onto Nara. Austin thought he’d be clever & eat his inari sushi at Inari station. We had to transfer onto an express line a few stops up, but the journey only took about 40 minutes in total!

We had a quick lunch at JR Nara Station once we arrived. Japan sells a suprising amount of really good Western-style pastries!

It was really really really really hot and humid outside. We walked to Nara park, which was a mistake. Austin tried to feed his deer cakes to the deer immediately by the deer cake store, which was also a mistake. Note well: the deer that hang out by the cake store are the bulshiest and nibbliest and will stop at nothing to get their fix.

Immediately after this photo, Austin got nibbled by the deer and tried to desperately throw all his remaining cakes at me like a sacrificial lamb. I made the smarter choice of covertly smuggling my own deer cakes into the quieter part of the park to feed the more docile deer. I thought I could feed several, but once I started feeding the first two, they kept insistently bowing and following me until there were none left!

We then took an underpass towards Nara hall and the Todai-ji temple. We paid ~¥800 to go into Todai-ji temple, which was absolutely worth it! The temple itself is massive and houses the biggest bronze Buddha, known as Daibutsu. It’s really unfathomably large, with “smaller” Buddha’s either side.

There were lots of touring school groups at the temple as well, with lots of kids getting swarmed with eager deer like we did!

We were exhausted after walking all the way to Nara park, so we took a local/tourist loop bus back to the station. After a little bit of heat fatigue and near-fainting, we left Nara for Kyoto again. We had dinner at Kyoto Station. Austin ordered potato croquette and I ordered pork katsu curry! We followed it up with fresh strawberry mochi from a store outside our local station (Nijo Station).

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