My Japan Trip Journal: Day 8 – Nara and Osaka Castle

This post contains the journal of my Japan trip on day 8, 2 April 2017: Nara and Osaka Castle.

You can read about the previous day of my trip (Kobe and Around Osaka) here.

As always, we woke up before the sun rose. 5:15. I started to regret this decision about residing in Osaka for the whole week, but what could we do? Argh.

This is the day we’re going to see the deers! Hooray! Although there’s this video snap showing how tired we were..

We arrived in Nara, a town just about 40 minutes from Osaka station at 8:00. We walked all the way up the steeping lane. The streets were all still empty and the sun peek out beautifully.

Our first destination is Tofukuji but we didn’t spend a lot of time there. We saw the first 2 deers there and they immediately bowed to us! Cuteness overload!

“So cuteeeee”

We decided that each of us has to get at least one boomerang video of us bowing with the deers. It was to no avail at that time. I took pictures of the temple and we head to Todaiji temple immediately.

Tofukuji Temple

Along the way we met lots of other deers but all of them only bowed to us once. I found out that they only bowed to ask for biscuits that were being sold everywhere. We saw people who brought biscuits were being chased and bowed quite a lot. I didn’t know why, but I wasn’t in the mood of buying biscuits. Instead, we just wander around, bowed to random deers, took videos and pictures with them.

I’m seriously in love with their house buildings’ aesthetic view.

After about half an hour, we finally found the deers that’d bow while bowing with us!! Phew! That was incredibly tiring.

Anyway we finally reached our next destination, the Todaiji temple, the most famous Buddhist temple in Nara. The crowd was almost unbearable. After taking pictures outside, we went in and paid about… around JPY 300-500 (US$ 2.70-4.50). I totally forgot.

Luckily for us, the day was really sunny. There was a 10-min free guided tour and Sonia insisted we had to take it. So we did. The guide was this nice old lady with decent English, and she began to elaborate the history of the temple. I didn’t note it down but this is what I found from Google.

The guide continued to explain temple has a large Buddha statue inside, and she guided us to the hand-washing fountain called temizuya or chouzuya. She taught us how to properly purify our hands (the ritual was called misogi) before entering a temple. The website JNTO explained it this way:

・First, scoop up water in a ladle with your right hand and pour water over your left hand.

・Next, hold the ladle with your left hand and pour water over your right hand.

・In your left hand, take some water that you have scooped with the ladle and rinse your mouth. Never touch the ladle directly to your mouth.

・Lastly, using the remaining water, tip the ladle to rinse it off.

*You only scoop up water one time, at the very first step of the process.

But the guide taught me this way:

・First, scoop up water in a ladle with your right hand and pour water over your left hand.

・Next, hold the ladle with your left hand and pour water over your right hand.

・In your left hand, take some water that you have scooped with the ladle and rinse your mouth. Never touch the ladle directly to your mouth.

・Lastly, using the remaining water, pour water on left hand and right hand, and tip the ladle to rinse it off.

*You only scoop up water one time, at the very first step of the process.

Nevertheless, there’s no harm in following the unspoken rules, I guess.

We entered the temple and saw the magnificent Buddha statue, then circled the place. There was a diorama representing the whole temple area, and there was this interesting very large tree trunk in the other corner. People were queuing to go through this small hole by the lower part of the trunk. It was said that if you’re able to squeeze your body inside and make your way through it, your wishes will come true. Many children and women attempted and made it, although the hole was very small. Because the queue was quite long, we didn’t want to get in the line, and continued our journey instead.

Our next destination was Yoshikien Garden. Just like ji stands for ‘temple’, en actually stands for garden. Therefore when translated to English, I have no idea why they wouldn’t name it ‘Yoshiki Garden’.

This garden is actually relatively small; you’ll only need 20 minutes to wander around inside. The atmosphere was very zen-like, so we stayed for 40 minutes inside. There were supposed to be a lot of small sakura trees but they hadn’t fully bloomed just yet…


It was already 12:30 pm; time to go back to Osaka! We ate our lunch at a regular Japanese lunch restaurant; I ordered a pork cutlet curry rice and Sonia ordered a pork cutlet lunch set. They were all in a large portion but we managed to eat them all.

Pork cutlet curry rice

We went down the main street once again afterwards and we saw this very cute store that only sells pig, owls, and cats goodies on the street corner. Everything inside was extraordinarily cute. Even the shop owner put his owl up on the wall; just sitting there being all cute while everybody was “whaaaaaaaa”ing. Sonia bought a very cute, cat-shaped, tissue box. Thankfully, I’m not an all sucker for cute stuff, because everything inside was inexplicably out of my budget.

“So cute!”

We headed back to Osaka and decided to go to Osaka Castle. It was a really large site with lots of open spaces and tall sakura trees; perfect for hanami. There were a few sites where the beautiful white/pink sakura flower had showed themselves, and there were sites where the sakura trees hadn’t bloomed yet. Nevertheless, people sat under trees with their friends and significant others, chatting loudly while enjoying their beer. Although the park was really crowded, it was really nice to see them relax. Again, we went around and took pictures.

I can never get enough of this. Never.

One thing I realised is that people in Japan generally love to have rabbits as their pets. I was taking pictures of my friend when I saw this cute grandpa dragging around a seemingly smaller-than-dog creature. I realised it was a rabbit, squealed, and left my friend while she was posing.

But then in SnapChat my friend told me that you shouldn’t treat rabbit that way as their spines are not that strong. Aw, too bad. He didn’t really drag the rabbit around, but I couldn’t tell the grandpa about that. Damn it, language barrier.

Anyway here’s another rabbit I found a person carryied around.

We tried to find the best spot to take the Osaka Castle pictures but we simply couldn’t find one with sakura tree surrounding the magnificent view of the building. Nevertheless, we still went around and finally managed to reach the site in front of the castle.


Osaka Castle

At that moment, I believe we’ve walked as far as 10 km for the day. We decided to buy some kind of french fries, sit in front of the castle and enjoy the sunset (although not visible). My tongue was still burnt. It was painful to eat fried food.

They called it “strong potato”. I absolutely had no idea why. It was remotely strong. The moment I pick one up, it would broke.


After the sky went dark, we saw a soft cream stall that sold Cremia soft cream and bought the heavenly thing once again, along with a regular green tea soft cream. Although the temperature was around 10 degrees with harsh winds, we just couldn’t get enough of the Cremia. It was the best ice cream ever.


We could not resist the weariness any longer, so we walked down the park once more to go home. There was a loud crowd near the park entrance. Long story short, there was a small concert with a real stage that I couldn’t give a damn about. We continued to walk into the station and stopped by a small bookstore. I saw this cute book about Marutaro, the famous Shiba-Inu Instacelebrity. I kept flipping the pages until my eyes got satisfied with the cuteness.

This snap was originally sent to my friend that loves dogs. “Pat” is her name.

We went back to the apartment afterwards. On the way up there, we entered the 24 hours supermarket and saw these seemingly suspicious food packages with overly cheap price tags (around $1). We bought some yogurts and bottled water.

“Food for us with empty pockets”

Anddddd I decided to buy a cup noodle from a vending machine inside our building. Might I say that Japanese cup noodles were so damn good!

Nissin cup noodle, chicken flavoured.

Anyway, another wonderful day is waiting for us. Kyoto, here we come!


Next day: Nanzenji and Ginkakuji (Kyoto)


Disclaimer: All of the pictures above were taken by my friend and me using Nikon D5500 and iPhone 5s. I reduced the quality of the pictures and videos to save my WordPress storage.

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