Japan 2015: Nara Park in Winter, Todaiji

We bade fond farewells to the yummy city of Osaka the next morning by having a hearty breakfast at Za Meshi-ya, a 24-hour restaurant specialising in Don. That raw egg in a bowl? You’re supposed to pour it over your rice and mix it in – we didn’t know what to do with it and clarified this with the waiter who mimed it for us while explaining in Japanese. Thank you kind sir!
We also scored a cheesecake from Rikurou Ojisan no Mise! They weren’t even open for business yet, but the kind staff took one look at the three of us rolling around our luggages and obliged our early morning request for an order of freshly-baked cheesecake. Lucky! Yummy cake in hand, we boarded the train headed for Kyoto… but first, pit stop at Nara Park.
My first time at Nara Park was in the summer of 2010. This time, I was looking forward to seeing the changing leaves and introducing Daibutsu-sama to both Ai and Ru who hadn’t been there before. Of course, there were the very friendly (and greedy) deer which were the main attraction of the area.
Even the manhole covers feature deer.
Warning! I’m pretty paranoid, so I’d already accounted for a million tragic scenarios in my head, but it’s still interesting to see cute signs warning curious visitors about our placid four-legged friends.
Photo source: Ai.
I was disappointed that all of the deer had no noticeable antlers – they were magnificent when I visited Nara Park in the summer – it turns out that there’s a deer antler-cutting ceremony performed every autumn to prevent our friends from inflicting damage onto others and themselves.
We also bought senbei – magical items which possess deer-attracting powers.
Photo source: Ai.
Funny(?) story – one of the more aggressive deer decided to pounce on Ru, who was holding the plastic bag containing the senbei we bought. This frightened her so much that she burst into tears and was inconsolable for a short while. Ai instantly activated care mode and set about efficiently diffusing the situation, taking the offending plastic bag out of Ru’s hands and diverting the deer’s attention. Meanwhile, I’m laughing like an asshole and being generally unhelpful because the whole situation was so absurd and Ru looked so cute crying vulnerably like that. Those two are saints for continuing to be my friends, really. Ironically, whatever qualms Ru has with mammals, she seems not to possess when it comes to insects. This is her finger because I wanted a size comparison with this odd-looking bug but was too afraid to go near it.
We also got ourselves some soft serve cream, because why not. Photo source: Ai.
We headed to find Daibutsu-sama (Big Buddha) at Todaiji. Photo source: Ai.
A sign explaining the hair on this buddha statue.
Wearing CNDirect dress, Zara coat, Stance socks, Spurr shoes. Photo assist: Ai.
The Momiji were so beautiful in Nara Park. I could only imagine what it’d have looked like in the height of autumn.
We took turns excitedly posing in a panorama shot. Photo source: Ai.
Photo assist: Ai.
Photo assist: Ai.
We had an early dinner at a Kakinoha Sushi place in Nara Park before heading back to the station to retrieve our luggages from the station lockers and continuing our journey to Kyoto. I’d never tried Kakinoha sushi before, so it was a nice treat. It’s apparently one of Nara’s well-known dishes, consisting of sliced salmon or salted mackerel sushi wrapped in persimmon leaf (kakinoha).
Remember that cheesecake we bought in Osaka? We finally got to treat ourselves after settling at our awesome Airbnb in Kyoto. SO DELICIOUS.
We shared the cake with Keiko-mama, our wonderful host, while warming up in a kotatsu and chatting about our itinerary. Keiko-mama was pretty excited about the cheesecake – according to her, Rikuro’s is a famous brand in Osaka. Pretty cool to know that we lucked out with the cheesecake.