I had the chance to visit Japan in October 2018 for free (thanks to a cancelled flight to Busan!). Knowing how beautiful Japan’s naturescape will be, I already had high expectations for its “sereneness”. There were four cities on my itinerary: Osaka, Nara, Kyoto and Nagoya.
Osaka has beautiful parks and castles. The cleanliness of the city (much the rest of Japan) is impeccable. Nagoya, on the other hand, is architecturally stunning. It will be a haven for people who love modern structures. Kyoto is a mix of old the new. It’s city center is modern but as urban as Nagoya and Osaka. Then, interspersed in the city are the reminders of what makes Japan, especially its history and culture, so distinct.
Nara, on the other hand, was quite a surprise for me. Deers were the only thing that I know about the place, only to find out that it has a lot of charms. By Japanese city standards, Nara is small. In fact, one can visit the major tourist sites in one day and access them all by foot. For a small city though, structures in Nara are astounding and are spread out horizontally.
More than anything else though, Nara brought a certain kind of serene feeling for me. There were a lot of people during the time we visited, but undoubtedly there was music playing in my head while I was there–a good indicator of peace of happiness. There is mystery in the eeriness of its temple walkways–the kind that makes you wonder that they have seen in the past.
During my encounters with the deers, I noted that they knew how to bow when you greeted them. I thought it was fluke but when I looked at other people, the deers really knew hot to bow! Talk about animals being more polite than people.
I was also struck by the the hoards and hoards of student that were in the Todaiji temple area. There were cute kindergartens who were accomplished by their teachers in a school trip. Then, there were high school students in matching uniforms, school bags and school shoes, and just killing time after class. Oh, the joy of being young.
And the list of things I loved about Nara goes on…from the large storage in its subways, the ice cream vending machines in its streets, the cheap udon, to its mossy forests…Ugh I love everything about this city. It’s a definitely not a place one should skip when in the Kansai region. ❤