Nara Park and the Sacred Deer of Japan

Nara Park deer have become one of Japan’s main attractions.

Nara Park is famous throughout Japan for its sacred deer. It is located in the provincial capital of Nara, in Nara Prefecture. Nara has the privilege of being the prefecture with the most UNESCO World Heritage sites in Japan. It is also known for being a place with a lot of history and for being surrounded by nature.

The city of Nara is only 32 km from Osaka and 45 km from Kyoto. It’s an interesting place because in the eighth century was the capital of Japan and now has several temples and works of art from that time. Still, the city has become famous for its huge park with deer that have managed to snatch the spotlight from the temples. There is no doubt that they are Nara’s main attraction. If you want to know how to get to Nara from Osaka in my previous post I indicate it step by step.

Where to stay in Nara?

If you travel just in time, you don’t need to stay in Nara. From Osaka or Kyoto, a day trip to and from Nara Park is more than enough. But if you want to stay longer, here I recommend you two places where you can stay at Nara:

Nara, being so close to Osaka and Kyoto, has become a very touristy place so you won’t have any problem finding a hotel or hostel. If you are a backpacker and are looking for a cheap place you can stay where I stayed, in the Hostel & Gallery G is Good. You can find it in Booking as the second cheapest hostel in Nara, after the Nara Deer Hotel.

The Nara Deer Hotel is 1000 yen, has a rating of 7.9 and does not include breakfast. The G is Good is 1450 yen, has a rating of 9 and breakfast is included. If you are looking for something cheap, these two hostels are for you. In my case, the G is Good ended up convincing me because every day at 7pm they make a toast with all the tenants. It can be a good opportunity to meet people, have a good chat or even cheer up and go out for a while.

The annoying check-in in Japan

One annoying thing in Japan is that most hostels check out at 10:00am and check-in at 4pm. I don’t understand why you should check in so late, but you have to keep that in mind. In my opinion, it’s better to arrive in a city around 4 than to arrive at 12 noon. If not, get ready to stay 4 hours waiting to register. You can always, of course, leave your backpack at the hostel and go for a walk. However, if you are coming from a long trip, it is possible that you only want to arrive for a rest or a hot shower.

What to see and what to do in Nara?

Inside Nara Park you will find the main attraccions of Nara. Among many other things, the deers and 3 temples stand out from the rest:

What to see in Nara Park:

1. The friendly Nara deer

However, the highlight is all located in Nara Parkfamous for its hundreds of deer that belch free everywhere. They are considered sacred, so they are respected and cared for. That’s why you can find them almost everywhere in the park.

Some are right next to the stalls where they sell deer food waiting for you to give them something to eat. Be careful because they don’t cut themselves there and it’s possible that if they see you with a cookie, 4 or 5 will come at once. They can often bite your jacket or even give you a push or two, but nothing serious.

And also, if you go on Chinese holidays as was my case, you’ll find yourself Chinese, many Chinese. In the park you can easily spend an entire day and if you don’t get careless, you will “lose” two hours just taking pictures with the deer.

Many other deer you will find them walking through the park at their ball or lying on the lawn rest. From time to time you will be approached by someone looking at you with the face of a slaughtered lamb to see if you give him something or to see if you have food in your hand. Here’s a video I made about Nara Park that I made.

2. Kofukuji Temple and the Five-Storied Pagoda

The Kofukuji Temple is a Buddhist temple declared a World Heritage Site in 1998. Inside the temple we find the Kofukuji Temple Museum that houses a few relics with historical and artistic value considered as national treasure and right in front of the Five-Storied Pagoda. The entrance to the temple is free, but to enter the museum you have to pay 600 yens.

3. The amazing Todaiji Temple

Todaiji Temple is one of the most spectacular temples in Japan. It’s a Buddhist temple with an imposing exterior facade and that lodges in his interior a giant statue of the Buddha Vairocana. It also includes a museum. The entrance to the temple costs 500 yen and the entrance to the museum another 500 yen. Combined ticket 800 yen.

4. The beautiful Kasuga Taisha Shrine

Shinto shrine founded in 768 and decorated with three thousand lanterns, stone lamps, bronze lamps and a botanical garden. Entrance to the shrine: 500 yen. Entrance to the botanical garden: 500 yen for adults and 250 yen for children.

What to see around Nara?

There are a few temples on the outskirts of Nara that if you go with too much time are worth a visit. Specifically, there are two large temples and a palace:

  1. Toshodaiji Temple
  2. Yakushiji Temple
  3. Headquarters of the Palace of Heijo

How to go from Nara to Kyoto?

From Nara you can go to Kyoto with Kintetsu Express trains for 620 yen. Also with the Rapid Train of the line Miyakoji for 710 yen. Both train journeys are approximately 40 minutes. The Miyakoji line station is right in front of the G is Good hostel so I opted for that option more than anything to save 15 minutes walking with the backpack to Kintetsu station.

Nara gives the traveler the opportunity to see something different, that’s why I advise to go even if it’s only for one day. I assure you that you will enjoy the company of a lot of deer and you will do well to disconnect a bit of big cities like Osaka and Kyoto.

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All good things are wild and free.

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