Nara is a city located in South-central Honshu, and are known for its richness and beauty that are contained in their temples and shrines. Nara is definitely home to some of the best temples and shrines the country has to offer, along with many beautiful gardens, museums and traditional neighborhoods.
When one think of Nara, they think of the famous Nara-koen park and its many semi-wild beer; but you will be surprised by the amount of other interesting locales that can be visited in Nara. Of course, Nara-koen Park is one destination that must be visited when in Nara. Nara-koen Park is lined with pleasant pathways, and undoubtedly, the most interesting feature of the park is the large population of semi-wild deer that roam the park. These deers are known to be gentle and to some extent, able to express the Japanese formality of bowing when presented with food. You can buy a pack of deer crackers (shika sembei) to feed them. The park itself also contains one of the most famous temple in Japan, the Todai-ji Temple. Todai-ji Temple is home to the famous Daibutsu statue (Great Buddha). Entering the temple itself is breathtaking, but when you reach the Daibutsu-den (Hall of the Great Buddha) where it contains the grand statue of the Daibutsu, the 16-meter high statue is a grand spectacle to behold.
For those who love Japanese garden, there is a little secret gem of a spot in Nara called Isui-en Garden. It is a spacious garden perfect for day stroll with plenty of beautiful ponds in your horizon. What makes this garden special is that at any time of the year there is always something in bloom, and to enjoy the beautiful flowers why not pair it with a cup of authentic matcha and sweets such as Dango (japanese sweets made from mochi).
You might ask how is Nara different than other bigger city such as Kyoto? The answer is its tranquility. Beautifully kept temples, free roaming deers, the lack of large crowds and the chance to just walk leisurely and take all the sight in under the deep blue sky. It is truly something different.