Day 13 was a really special day because it was the first time I was travelling out of Kyoto, to Nara! We had purposely chosen to go to Nara on this day because of a festival that was going to take place (Kasuga Wakamiya Festival) and it was a rare chance to see traditional dances, horse racing and, of course, eat festival street food! We also had ample time to play with the deer and feed them.
Going there meant a two hour train journey and there was no way I was going to crack my brain to try and figure out how the train fares work so I bought my Icoca card, which you can get from any train station and simply top up money which would subtract automatically when you tap out. The journey gives fantastic views of the country sides and distant mountains.
The moment we reached there we could feel the excitement in the air. There were stalls lining the street and many people were walking towards Nara park. Preparations for the festival were already taking place.
Those taking part in the festival were dressed in traditional attire, carrying some props such swords, umbrellas and tree branches and waiting for the time to start.
We took this time to play with the deer nearby and take photos with them. These deer are very used to humans and will (aggressively) approach you if you have food. The will also bow (super cute) when you bow at them, and expect some food as a reward.
The horns of the deer seem to be shaven down, probably because these deer do headbutt people for food. We then watched a procession for a while.
By then it was already noon and we were getting hungry so we went to the street food stalls to get something to eat. The only downside to street food is there is usually no where to sit and eat so you just have to struggle (especially if you get noodles like yakisoba).
We then watched another procession (this time there were horses!) before we decided to walk towards the main shrine there.
Along the way we saw horse races taking place in the central walkway (I want to upload a video but I can’t- sorry!) and played with the deer and bit more. I love how although it is technically a park, the area is heavily forested and very beautiful, especially as you walk deeper into the park.
Kasuga Taisha Shrine is absolutely beautiful, and is also a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s a really tranquil place, although a bit crowded at times.
Luckily for us, because most people were watching the festival the shrine was rather empty.
you can see some of the lanterns
There is a small entrance fee for the main attraction there, its lanterns. We didn’t want to pay the entrance fee but I’ve heard it’s a pretty sight.
We took photos with the horses and deers again. Nara park has a wonderful charm to it and I definitely recommend it, especially if you love animals (specifically deer).
If you plan to visit Japan, it’s a real experience to see a festival and I highly recommend that you do a bit of research to find out if there will be festivals around the area you plan to visit. It’s really a lot of fun!
After this we decided to go to Osaka to find some dinner and roam around Dotonbori. Dotonbori is famous for its night life anyway, and we won’t be missing much by going in the evening. After another hour long journey we arrived!
Dotonbori is immediately recognisable due to the large figures on top of restaurants. Some of these figures even move!
It’s best known for its food, so of course we had to eat dinner here. We found a restaurant famous for takoyaki and ate there. It was so, so good.
We then walked around for a bit, sightseeing and going into shops, including one that sold dvds and manga.
And of course we took picture with the glico man.
We did a bit of window shopping and decided to head back, since we did have a 2 hours journey back (by local train). Unfortunately, we took the wrong train which was going to the same place- we ended up taking a bullet train.
This ended up costing us an extra 1000 yen each (cries) but at least we reached the dorm in an hour. A fantastic day full of new experiences, I walked a whopping 31044 steps.