This is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the very beginning, click here.
Since we started the day in Nara quite late in the morning, we were now pretty hungry. Within the huge Nara park, there aren’t many places to eat, since all the few buildings here are heritage buildings. So if you are planning to spend the whole day in Nara, make sure you eat before you enter the park. Or eat when you finally finish the entire park.
So walked down from Todaiji towards Kasuga Taisha, and there was a row of restaurants interspersed with shops selling knives and cutlery (apparently knives are a popular thing to buy here). The restaurant we entered was very welcoming, but upon sitting down, we found out they were out of ramen. So we tried the next shop.
So we had our first ramen in Japan. The thing is ramen in Japan is that every region has their own speciality. In Nara, the soup isn’t as thick as we’re used to, but it was great nonetheless.
The shop had no English name, except for the Chinese characters I can recognize (ç™½éŠ€å±‹). The front of the restaurant is taken up by a large souvenir shop.
After a hearty lunch we walked further down the street, and we saw this cute cafÃ©. There’s never a bad time for coffee, as I always say.
Deer Park Inn serves great coffee, manned by very friendly staff. The wifi is great, and more importantly, they provide a respite from the cold outside.
By the time we finished our coffee and recuperated, it was already mid afternoon and starting to get really cold in Nara. The deer were starting to disappear into the forest. Our last itinerary was to visit Kasuga Taisha shrine. In Japan, when a shrine is called Taisha (‘Grand Shrine’), it means that it is the main shrine in the area and would therefore be big and popular (e.g. Fushimi Inari Taisha).
Kasuga is reknowned for home to 3,000 stone lanterns that when lit up during night time, looks ethereal.
At one of the open courtyards, there was a small festival of some sorts happening.
There were lots of counters open, manned by the temple staff. Here you can have your fortune told, or have your name written by a master calligrapher.
The fortune system is rather simple. You pick a scroll or number from a display, pass it to the lady, she will give you a porcelain or wooden deer (for a fee, of course). The mouth of the deer will be holding your rolled up fortune. Not sure if you get an exchange or refund if you receive a lousy fortune, though.
Anyway it was now nearing 5pm, and getting dark and cold in Nara. Time to leave the park. Time for one last photo. I like this pic, it summarized my memory of Nara – a deer framed by a giant torii gate, and autumn colours in the background.
Next – surprise dinner in Nara