Since we fell asleep pretty early our first night in Japan, we woke up pretty early (about 6am). Both considerably hungry, we decided to order room service and settled for the American Continental Breakfast (which included: eggs, sausage, ham, a basket of pastries/bread, coffee or juice, water, yogurt with mochi, and a salad). It was a pretty “Standard” breakfast yet it was pretty pricey at ¥3000 per American Continental Breakfast. After breakfast, we got ready for our first adventure: Nara! Fun fact: Nara was Japan’s first permanent capital.
We made our way to the Shin-Osaka station and flashed our JR Pass and searched for the Haruka 19 line towards the Kansai Airport where we would get off at Tennoji Station to get onto the Yamatoji Line towards Nara. The train ride including the changing of train lines took about an hour. When we got to Nara, we didn’t realize it was our stop until the train correspondent told us we were at Nara (Nara was the last stop) We made our way out of the train station and onto Sanjo Dori. The street was lined with small shops and restaurants. Our first stop in Nara was Kōfukuji. The pagoda at Kōfukuji was first built in 730 and then recently rebuilt in 1426, so that was pretty neat to see. We did not enter the Eastern Golden Hall, but if you wanted to, there is a ¥300 admission fee.
After, we headed in Nara Park where we found this sign regarding the deer.
And of course, I was a bit weary of the deer, but we didn’t see any aggressive deer. They were in a sense demanding to be fed (if that makes sense). A couple of deer did bite my jacket, which was a bit scary, but nothing too bad. We found a vendor selling deer crackers that we could feed the deer for ¥150/ 10 pieces. The crackers were more like little wafers. The deer did approach us knowing we had crackers, and they bowed to us showing they wanted a cracker, which we found really cute.
While walking through Nara park, we came across the Nara National Museum. Then we found ourselves in front of the Nandaimon Gate of Tōdai-ji. Nandaimon Gate, aka The Great South Gate, is a large wooden gate was completed in 1203 and is “guarded” by two guardian statues known as the “Ni-ō of Tōdai-ji.”
We walked through the gate and in the near distance we saw Tōdai-ji, the Great Eastern Temple. Before heading into Tōdai-ji, T bought Mitarashi Dango (mochi balls with a sweet-salty sauce) on a stick for ¥100. The mochi itself was soft and had a new chew, but the sauce was a bit weird. To enter Tōdai-ji, we paid ¥500 admission per person.
The temple was originally constructed in 752, but was reconstructed in 1692. The Daibutsuden, or the Big Buddha Hall, holds Japan’s largest bronze statue of Buddha (15 meters tall).
We walked through the interior of the hall and explored some of the grounds before leaving.
While walking back towards the Nara Station, we found ourselves back on Sanjo Dori and in Coco Curry (aka Curry House CoCo Ichibanya) to have lunch. This place fueled my obsession with Japanese Curry all over again. We were seated at the food bar top and were handed the multilingual menu.
We were able to customize our curry, so we went with that option:
- Select a curry sauce (pork, beef, hashed).
- Select the quantity of rice (200g, 300g, 400g, 500g)
- Select your spice level (mild, regular, spice level 1-10)
- Select your mild level (1-5)
- Select add-ons and toppings
After a couple of minutes, our waitress came by with an electronic device and took our order. I thought was pretty neat because she just selected off the screen what we wanted, which I found more convenient than having to write down everything (also, every place we went to took our order with an electronic device). I went with pork, 200g, mild level 2, with a soft-boiled egg, garlic bits, and pork cutlet. T went with pork, 400g, spice leve1 1, with a pork cutlet. We both opted for water, which was provided in a pitcher at the bar top, which was convenient. After entering our order, our server was back with our bill and left it in a plastic container in front of us. When we got our food and had our first bite, we were hooked. The curry was bursting with flavor and the pork cutlet was well fried with a nice crispy exterior/ breaded coating and the meat itself was moist and tender. We were both hungry so we scarfed our meals down. Then we grabbed our bill and paid up in the front. For less than ¥1800, we were both greatly satisfied. We took a slow stroll back to the Nara Station and found ourselves boarding the Yamatoji Line towards Osaka. We then got off at Osaka Station, boarded the Tokaido-Sanyo Line towards Kusatsu and got off at Shin-Osaka Station. We got to our room and fell asleep.