October 16, 2015

A night in Nara (deer parks, 10,000 lanterns & time-travel)

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After spending a night in Kyoto and packing up a small overnight bag we set off for Nara to stay in a hotel which we had been told is like being transported back 50-100 years, a feature the hotel prides itself on. 

The aim of this time warp is to feel as though nothing has been touched. It works perfectly and you wander around this famous establishment ooogling at the old style interiors, pictures on the walls and  impeccable customer service you dont see anywhere else.

After a late night wander around the town we came back to the hotel for a drink at the bar - even if you can't stay at the Nara Hotel, a drink in the bar is highly recommended. The gardens are lit and you sit in the bar with floor to ceiling glass opening onto the beautiful golden maples. The service, is of course impeccable and you are served Moscow Mules, Singapore Slings and the finest Japanese whiskey.

After a restful sleep we woke to sunlight streaming through our window and a view of few deer in the garden. We had a traditional breakfast and headed out into the national parks housing the cities famous Shrines.

Deer wander down from the forest covered hills surrounding the old city and get fed wafers by excited tourists. These deer  clearly have the best of life as there is no shortage of wafers or tourists wanting to feed them....we were no exception!

Once the deer had been sufficently fed we walked up to Todai-Ji Shrine, the largest surviving wooden structure in Japan, watched incense being lit, and stood in the shadow of a magnificent Budda.

 We navigated our way around the deer, and back out of the park and headed north  to Kasuga Taisha Nara's most celebrated shrine.  Here there are thousands of stone lanterns that have been donated by worshippers over the years. 

This magnificent collection of lanterns are only lit twice a year during festivals 

After an amazing day we meandered slowly back to gather our bags from the hotel and made our way back to Kyoto for the next few days of exploring Golden temples, Bamboo Forests and the tastiest sashimi. 

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