It’s safe to say that combining Kyoto and Nara in a single trip is achievable, more so when you have to maximise the dollar on your Japan Rail Pass. With the ultra-efficient and high speed shinkansen, you can travel on the fast lane from Kyoto to Nara within an hour! That’s how close you are to halal Japanese delicacies, tourist-friendly deer parks and beautiful ancient temples.

Credit: giphy

1. There are Muslim-Friendly Restaurants!
1 - Halal Japanese bentos
Halal Japanese bentos

Credit: umemori-halal

Just by looking at these Japanese bentos, it makes us crave for more. Additionally, with the growing number of Muslim-friendly restaurants in Nara, wondering where to eat will be a thing of the past. There are many eclectic flavours ranging from Japanese to vegetarian to try and our firm favourites are neatly packed bentos from Umemori and ramen from Naramachi Jinniyah. Umemori also has a cooking class that helps visitors master the art of preparing sushi.

Umemori Sushi School
Sushi school in Umemori

Credit: @ella_wu

Vegetarian restaurants are also aplenty in Nara and the noted eateries to visit are Ashura, Kinatei and Mellow Café. If you’re craving for Indian and Sri Lankan flavours for dinner, head over to Vanam, Shanti and Jay for a wave of spices.

Address: Umemori, 1-1-215 Sanjo-hommachi, Nara-shi, Nara
Contact: +81 742-34-8090
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun: 10:00am – 10:00pm
Price: ¥3,600 – ¥12,000

 

2. Spend time with adorable deer at the Nara Deer Park
Friendly park residents
Friendly park residents

Credit: theglobeandmail

Feel a wave of happiness when these friendly residents of Nara Park welcome you. Part of the unique charm of Nara prefecture, we wish our homes were perched somewhere close so we can drop by for a visit every single day. With the park being a home to thousands of sika deers wandering about, you can pick up snacks from the nearby stall to feed these gentle creatures and that are known to bow respectfully before you indulge them with some snacks.

Hang out with the adorable sika deers
Hang out with the adorable sika deers

Credit: globalhelpswap

For a little piece of memory, deer omikuji are sold everywhere and they will make sweet souvenirs for your family and friends. How adorable are they?

5 - Deer omikuji for souvenirs
Deer omikuji for souvenirs

Credit: diveintojapan

Address: Nara Park, Nara Prefecture
Directions: Take the train to JR Nara Station and enjoy a 6-min taxi ride to Nara Park.
Contact: +81 742-22-0375
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun: 24 hours
Admission: Free

 

3. Immerse yourself in the hisotry of ancient temples
6 - A magnificent view of Todaiji Temple
A magnificent view of Todaiji Temple

Credit: thehistoryblog 

If your soul is ready for some much-needed zen and tranquility, the ancient temples in Japan are spectacular sites to be. Among the Seven Great Temples of Nara, Todai-ji and Kofuku-ji are two main places of worship that welcome a continuous stream of locals and travellers everyday. With architectural inspirations derived from Buddhism and Japanese history, spectacular is an understatement to its real beauty that is best experienced in person.

The mesmerizing sight of Kofukuji Temple
The mesmerizing sight of Kofukuji Temple

Credit: worldlyresort

Address: Todai-ji Temple, 06-1 Zōshichō, Nara-shi, Nara-ken 630-8211
Directions: Take the train to JR Nara Station and enjoy a 6-min taxi ride to Nara Park.
Contact: +81 742-22-5511
Opening Hours: Fri – Wed: 9:30am – 5:30pm, Closed on Thursday
Price: ¥500 per person

 

4. Check out the spooky Nara Dreamland
The abandoned Nara Dreamland
The abandoned Nara Dreamland

Credit: By Jordy Meow (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

‘Gone yet not forgotten’ pretty much summarises our thoughts on Nara Dreamland. Established in 1961 that mimics the thrill and excitement of Disneyland in California, the once-glorious theme park was closed down following the successful opening of Tokyo Disneyland. While the theme park is closed off from public access, it doesn’t stop urban photographers from snapping photos of this amusement park in its abandoned state.

Address: 2 Chome-1-1 Hōrensahoyama, Nara-shi, Nara-ken 630-8108
Opening Hours: Permanently closed

 

5. Take an afternoon stroll in a traditional Japanese garden
Go for a sun-kissed stroll at Manyo Botanical Garden
Go for a sun-kissed stroll at Manyo Botanical Garden

Credit: japantravel

From sun-kissed strolls to quiet moments with your favourite book, the traditional gardens in Nara are made for it all. Somehow, we welcome the idea of getting lost while looking up to the trees at Manyo Botanical Garden and idling away under the shades at the temple gardens of Nara and Kamakura. Pictures and postcards aren’t enough to capture how scenic these gardens are – so remember to take your stroll nice and slow.

11 - Get lost in the temple gardens of Nara and Kamakura
Get lost in the temple gardens of Nara and Kamakura

Credit: travelwellflysafe 

Address: Manyo Botanical Garden, Kasuga-taisha Temple, 160 Kasuganocho, Nara, Nara Prefecture 630-8212
Directions: Take the train to Nara station and enjoy a 10-min taxi ride to Kasuga-taisha Temple where Manyo Botanical Garden is located
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun: 6:00am – 6:00pm
Price: ¥500 per person

 

6. Visit the beautifully scenic mountains
Chill with the locals at Mount Wakakusayama
Chill with the locals at Mount Wakakusayama

Credit: globalhelpswap

If you have more time to unwind with a blanket of greenery, Mount Wakakusa-yama and Mount Yoshino are two favourite spots in Japan during springtime. Great for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts, follow the trail of sakura petals to the top to score a magnificent view that will turn your Instagram feed green in envy.

13 - Follow the sakura trails to the peak of Mount Yoshino
Follow the sakura trails to the peak of Mount Yoshino

Credit: govoyagin

Address: Mount Wakakusa-yama, Nara Prefecture.
Directions: Situated close to Nara Park, you can take a 6-min taxi ride from Nara station.
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun: 24 hours
Price: ¥150 per person

Note: The Mount Wakakusa-yama trails are only open to hikers from mid-March to mid-June and mid-September to mid-November.

 

7. Shop til you drop at Higashimuki Shopping Street
14 - Splurge at Higashimuki Shopping Street
Splurge at Higashimuki Shopping Street

Credit: odigo

Shopping comes almost naturally in everyone’s travel itinerary and you can pick up handmade trinkets, traditional Japanese candy and even, kimonos from Higashimuki Shopping Street. Additionally, you can extend your shopping window to the connecting Mochiidono Shopping Arcade where it plays a home to local goods such as calligraphy brushes, ceramics, theatre masks and printed handkerchiefs.

Address: Higashimuki Shopping Street, East of Sanjo Dori Street, Nara Prefecture
Directions: Take the train to Kintetsu Nara Station and Higashimuki Shopping Street is situated next to it
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun: 11:00am – 7:00pm
Admission: Free

 

It’s easy to draw a rush of inspiration when you’re in Nara. Whether you’re seeking for peace and serenity from ancient temples or hanging out with the sacred sika deers in the park, there’s plenty of ways to enjoy your short detour to Nara.

 

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