One Day in Nara

Temples, deers and spiritual time travel

While staying in Kyoto, we decided to spend one day in Nara. The city is only 50 minutes away by train. Nara was the first capital of Japan, which is why there are some of the oldest temples in the country there. The Hōryū-ji temple is considered the oldest wooden structure in the world. The Tōdai-ji Buddhist temple complex is considered the largest wooden building instead. However, the universally recognizable symbol of Nara is the deer. According to legend, the god Takemikazuchi came to the city on a deer to watch over the new capital. Therefore, these animals are considered sacred here and can roam freely. They are very aware of their invulnerability and are completely unafraid of people, and sometimes they can even bite in search of a treat (rice cookie). If we are lucky, we will get a nod from them in gratitude for the treat.

Flavors of Nara

Of course, the journey would not be possible without food. Nara is famous for its mochi – traditional cakes made of glutinous rice. Traditionally, the dessert is prepared by pounding hot rice in a mortar. The resulting dough balls are stuffed with, for example, red bean paste or fruit. I also recommend the Edogawa Naramachi restaurant – especially the eel dishes.


The most exciting part of this trip was renting a kimono. Yes, I know, it is a very commercial attraction, but the specificity of this outfit makes the experience unique. Kimonos can be rented in almost every major city in Japan. However, we decided that a slightly less crowded Nara would be perfect to fully enjoy the experience (Fuji Kimono). The very process of dressing and selecting individual elements of the outfit is unique. The colours of kimonos, especially women’s ones, reflect the seasons. Men’s clothes have more subdued colours. Despite many layers, the kimono is very comfortable, you just need to get used to taking small steps. In the photos you can see my sister in an autumn kimono and my husband, who was probably a Japanese sensei in his previous incarnations.

During my trip to Japan, I also visited other cities. Here you can see reports from Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka.