Asia,  Japan,  TDM,  Travel Journal

A day in Nara (Japan): Tōdai-ji, Isuien Neiraku Museum, Yoshikien Garden, Kasuga-taisha shrine, mochis and deer from Nara Park

Nara is known for its large park and thousands of deer in total freedom. At first I just wanted to go there to see the deer, and then I was told that it couldn’t be a goal in itself because I would die of boredom. Finally, we spent a great day in the company of two French digital nomads

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

We meet in front of an okonomiyaki restaurant, nicknamed “Japanese pizza”, but with a lot of mayonnaise and barbecue sauce. Our first try in Osaka was a total failure, so we can’t wait to test this new restaurant, hoping it will be better

I’m not sure what I took, but everyone seems to be happy with their okonomiyaki. I prefer this one to the one I ate in Osaka, but I have to admit that it will never be my first choice, especially if I can choose sushi or beef teppanyaki instead

The famous mochi of Nakatanidou

With a full belly, the four of us go to Nakatanidou, a store made famous by its owner who has the gift of working his mochi dough in an extraordinary way. I let you discover his talent on video


Design of mochis in Nara.

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Normally, the dough has to be worked longer, but for marketing purposes, this “show” is given in his store every 15 minutes or so. His mochis are selling very well, and eating hot mochis is happiness!

I put here a picture I found on the Internet because I was too busy devouring my mochi

Our group separates because our two companions have already visited what we plan to visit. One thus gives appointment in a Japanese garden 2h later


Tōdai-ji is home to a very large bronze Buddha. The building that houses the Buddha is itself the largest wooden building in the world. Only that!

On our way to the temple, we see for the first time the famous fallow deer in the park

Super tame and very smart, they wait near the cookie stands to be fed. Their hair isn’t super shiny, proof that human food isn’t the most suitable. Having heard stories that deer can bite and attack us, I prefer to observe them from a distance. Anyway, I am against feeding wild animals

The front door alone is huge

We pay the entrance ticket (600 yen I think) and see this beautiful building from far away

A small picture in front of

And the famous Buddha, which has been recast, partially or completely, several times. Because of numerous earthquakes and incendiaries, he even lost his head twice. It doesn’t look like it on the picture but the statue is very, very big

There are two other large statues next to Buddha

The details are impressive

Next to it, children line up to pass through this small hole which is believed to be the size of the nostrils of the Great Buddha. Whoever manages to cross it will experience enlightenment

Isuien Neiraku

Seen on the way

We go, under an overwhelming heat, to the Japanese garden of Isuien Neiraku which consists of a garden and a small museum without interest. The garden is really worth the detour even if it is small. There is a real tea house. We were not begged to take a small refreshment

I like it too much!

Yoshikien Garden

It’s time to meet our friends in the garden next door, which is free of charge for foreigners

This one is less beautiful than the first one, and the tea houses here are no longer in service. But I was able to spot some nice flowers

Thirsty, we go to the first open tea room, before heading to Kasuga-taisha shrine which has plenty of lanterns

Kasuga-taisha shrine

This sanctuary is located at the foot of a hill. We see thousands of deer, running to “go home” after a hard day’s work with tourists: D

The alleys of the shrine are lined with hundreds of lanterns, and hundreds more are inside (but we couldn’t get in because it was too late). They are lit only twice a year

What is striking to everyone is how my clothes “match” the color of the columns of the sanctuary. I can camouflage myself if necessary

You can buy a kind of a hanging wish holder for 500 yen, it’s shaped like a deer head, and you have to draw the eyes etc. It’s fun

The flowers here smell too good

We will then get lost, trying to find the path leading us to the top of the hill. Finally, we give up this idea, and watch the sunset from a small lake

We head to an Italian restaurant called Nino. Apparently, the pizza is so good that our two friends came back to Nara just for that. Unfortunately the restaurant has been privatized tonight

We decide to go to another Italian, the one whose smell called out to us when we were heading towards the mochis. It’s Trattoria Piano, it’s very good, but apparently not as good as Nino. You know what you have to do when you come here 😉

I buy Nigiri-zushi wrapped in plywood leaves (these leaves are antibacterial but we don’t eat them, eh). They can be eaten within two days of purchase. It’s very good but I still prefer fresh sushi


Part 2: Practical Tips

How to get there

From Osaka, you can take the Kintetsu-Nara Line to Kintetsu-Nara Station. This station is closer to the attractions than JR Station. The trip takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes. You also have direct trains to Kyoto. Google Maps will give you the most suitable route


  • Transportation: 1120yen round trip/person from Osaka
  • Entrance to the Todai ji: 600yen if I remember correctly
  • Entrance to the garden: 600yen if I remember correctly


  • If you want to feed the deer, leave as soon as you have finished handing out the cookies, otherwise the deer may insist and bite you for more
  • On the seller’s cart, there is a poster in English explaining how to feed the deer, I invite you to read it beforehand
  • You can walk an hour to get to the top of the hill (type Mount Wakakusa on Google Maps) and have a nice view of the whole park.
  • All the places of attraction are close to each other, it is possible to visit everything in one day (provided that you get up early and eat less – which was not our case).

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