If you come to Japan you HAVE to visit Nara! At the bottom of Nara near the train station, all the hotels and guest houses sit together in the town centre. Ours was a good walk away but was actually inside the deer park.
The location was amazing. You walk out of your door into the park and headfirst into deer! The only drawback to this place was that we had to walk two and a half kilometres to get food and drink! You had to be reeeeally hungry to motivate yourself to go to town!
The deer park in Nara is the primary reason that tourists come to visit. The deer are very tame and come up to you for crackers (which you purchase from any of the shops in Nara). They are also trained to bow politely for a cracker although there are some greedy individuals that head bump you trying to get in your pockets, and leaving deer drool all over your legs!
The park is amazing. It is very busy in the day, mainly with Japanese school children on English lesson field trips. They come up to you and ask if you mind answering some questions. The same questions every time… “Where are you from?” “What’s your favourite food?” This was, in the beginning quite charming, as the children were so well mannered and eager to learn, but after the twelfth time in one day you find yourself being mean, and quickly turning down another path when you see the gaggle approaching.
After 5pm though, the park is deserted and it is really serene. Just you and the deer!
In Nara town we made a fatal mistake of going into a Coco-Ichibanya. The pictures outside looked innocent enough. It was just an ordinary japanese curry like a Katsu which you could customise to your tastes (spice level, sauce base, topping etc). However once we had eaten it, it became apparent that it was laced with meth. We just couldn’t stop eating it. We ate it the next day and the next. And when we realised we were going to kill our budget there, we found 7/11 boil in the bag alternatives that almost hit the spot so we ate these instead. Although we wanted to try the different foods in Japan we ate the curry eight times as it was so damn delicious. We even found one in Singapore to my delight! – The next one on our route is LA and I will sure as shit be going there, no matter how far the detour. Its the ONLY thing I’m looking forward to in LA! Serious jawgasm!
The last couple of days in Nara we did some walking. There was a little “hill” in front of our hostel which we walked up the back of and ended up doing 18km.
The view was astounding though and well worth it, although the next day we couldn’t move! There was also a strange inscribed rock formation at the top, where a lady was collecting flowers. I presume it had something to do with Shinto buddhism, but it had a very eerie feeling.
Nara was stunning! Do yourself a favour and go there! I would come back in a heartbeat (and not just for the Coco-Ichibanya!)