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Saturday, June 24, 2017

#carmenxjapan Day 10: Deerly Nara

Have been slacking so much at home for the past 3 weeks and God knows how much I have expanded sideways. What's worse, there's like this constant need to stick my butt on the ground and not move. Really need to start moving and earn a little extra to compensate for my excessive spending in Japan and yep I'm now back in SG. Gotta be prepared, physically and mentally. 

Well with my part-time work, I'm not sure if I will be able to finish all the posts but I swear I will try my best to complete the series before real work begins. Do bear with me! Now, Day 10! Woke up early and breathe in as much Kyoto's air as possible and took the train southwards to the port city of Osaka! Sometimes it's hard to believe that cities can be so different, was super pumped as I saw the energetic crowds at Osaka. But before I explore the city, off to another historical town for some sightseeing. 

From Osaka to Nara
Nara is known as the first permanent capital in Japan, and therefore the city has many heritage sites including temples and shrines that have the longest histories. Besides, Nara is also famous for the sight of wild deer that roam around the city's central park. After all the temple run in Kyoto, I wasn't gonna prioritize visiting temples anymore. So pretty much just walked slowly and just explored along the way. Turns out Nara is a great day trip destination because not only you get the historical side but also the nature and recreation. 

Anyways, took a JR train from Shin-Imamiya Station in Osaka to the Nara Station which takes about an hour. 

Kasuga Shrine 春日大社
Nara's main Shinto shrine to worship the capital's guardian. On the way to the main shrine, there's lots of ancient lanterns on both sides of the road, covered in moss, stained by time. The shrine is also known for its purple wisteria flowers inside the shrine complex, was hoping to see it but too bad it wasn't the blooming season so all I see is just green and brown. 

some kind of religious ceremony taking place, loads of believers watched in silence. 

The wisteria plant where the purple flowers are suppose to be hanging over the bamboo grid. 

Deer Wishes

A fortune telling deer. 

say hi to the many deer around Kasuga Shrine

btw the reason why deer freely roam around in Nara Park is because they are believed to be God's messengers in Shinto religion

my patronus charm! nahhh i think mine will be a penguin

their gold everywhere haha

Nara National Museum 
Just 20 minutes walk from Kasuga Shrine, found this museum in the middle of Nara Park. It's made up of two separate buildings connected by an underground passage. One of the building is the original museum with its ancient exterior. The museum is basically a gallery for precious Japanese Buddhism art. Admission fee applies however the underground passage is open to the public. Visited the underground gallery which showcased the museum's history and several Buddhism related sculptures. 

The underground gallery

The old wing of the museum which was established in 1889

The modern looking new wing, with a water feature and a museum cafe. 

Honestly I love how small towns like Uji and Nara are surrounded by massive mountains. 

right next to the museum is a stretch of shop houses which offers food, drinks and souvenir. And there's this RnR station by Okumura Corporation which has washrooms and complimentary coffee and tea provided. Furthermore, the RnR has a mini gallery which showcases Okumura Corporation's history, including its anti-earthquake technology. Drinks, washroom, rest area and gallery in one, this has to be the best RnR I've seen haha

The RnR Building's rooftop floor which offers a view of Nara Park and the surrounding neighborhood

Had lunch at a cafe nearby Nara Museum

下下味亭 Ka Ga Mi Tei Cafe
Location: Japan, 〒630-8213 Nara-ken, Nara-shi, Noboriōjichō, 59

honestly, I was just pulled by its bright and open interior with the floor length mirrors. You could see Nara National Museum over here. 

Beef Curry Rice (850yen)
Interestingly, the beef curry is different from the chicken version. The beef curry is more like tomatoe with curry stew. The beef pieces are stewed till tender and fell apart in strips. Great with rice. Honestly I have no idea what are they made from, but the pickles are awesomeeee! Salad was just so-so. 

again, love how bright the space was, just enjoying the food and sunshine. 

Ice Cocoa (530yen)
Honestly, iced cocoa has been my answer to ice milo craving while in Japan haha. Love the milky and rich flavor. 

Todaiji Temple 東大寺
Remember how I temple ran in Kyoto? to be honest I was kinda sick of visiting temples. I was hesitating when I walked towards Todaiji. But something about its grand entrance gate tells me that this is going to be special and so I forked out the 500yen in my pocket and bought myself a ticket. And thanks to my instincts, the temple is also a rather unique one compared to the ones I've seen in Kyoto. The halls are massive and tall, the Buddha statues are also mega-sized and it really creates an illusion of godly greatness, it's like the Buddhas can just crush you in a blink of an eye. Impressed with the grand sculptures and I bet people in the past felt the same way too. 

Can we just take one moment ti admire this majestic and grand temple hall
Love the shape of its roof and that perfect symmetry. 

Resting at the middle of the hall is the Big Buddha

see how tiny we are?

sorry these yellow caps are so adorable. 

There's also miniature models of the temple in its original form, which was much larger than the current temple. 

Sorry I think I chose to forget what Buddha is this, but this was outside of the temple hall. Don't you think the sculpting makes it look very much alive (and it did scared me at first sight). 

Final greeting to the deer of Nara

okay deer are actually very cute though I don't wanna go near them because of the stench haha. Plus the deer in Nara Park are super well mannered. If you bow to them, they will reciprocate!

Jyan Jyan Yokocho
Back to Osaka, was kinda drained out due to lack of sleep and I was pretty much glued to my bed in hostel. But the thought of deep fried skewers gave me a surge of energy to head out. From Shin-Imamiya station, Jyan Jyan Yokocho takes around 15 minutes walking to reach. This is an alley of Japanese eateries and most of them serves Kushikatsu which is deep fried battered skewers. I didn't really research which outlet is good and just used the good old food hunt rule no.1, join the longest queue. Found myself queuing at 八重勝 Yaekatsu which has like 2 shops on the opposite sides of the alley. Basically it's like a skewers bar, guests are seated around the "kitchen" with the deep fry wok in the middle. Just order directly to any of the kitchen crew in front of you and the skewers are dipped into the batter and deep fried instantly. Once its done, they will serve it right on your tray. I swear I really miss this kind of "bar dining" in Japan, having food prepared in front of your eyes and served it right before you. 

八重勝 Yaekatsu (Kushikatsu Bar) 
Location: Japan, 〒556-0002 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Naniwa Ward, Ebisuhigashi, 3 Chome−4−13

all sorts of Japanese goodies over here

Basically there's a range of ingredients to choose from. Magically, everything deep fried with that batter taste awesome. This is deep fried Shitake Mushroom. 

Beef Skewers (in a set of 3) and Scallop on the right 
I can cry, these are so good T T Crunchy on the outside while retaining its tender meat. The scallop was heaven seriously, it's still juicy and soft on the inside. 

Ebi (Prawn) and Chicken 
not sure what kind of prawn they use, it's those super solid and bouncy type, like the texture of those big tiger prawns

Lotus root and Asparagus
seriously how can deep fried veggie taste so good. Please don't mistake this for Tempura, the texture of the crunch is very very different. The batter actually gives a thin crunchy coat unlike tempura's fluffy and airy coat. Love it because it's not too hard to bite through the batter while the the lotus root and asparagus inside are juicy and crunchy. Sorry I'm playing around the same adjectives but really I don't know what else to say other than perfectly synchronised crunch. 

Shinsekai 新世界
just a short walk from the other end of Jyan Jyan Yokocho, found myself at the Shinsekai main street where you have all the mega and wacky shopfronts. If you ever wondered where to eat in Osaka, this is where you fill your tummies and just like Jyan Jyan Yokocho, the area is known for Kushikatsu. There are also restaurants that serves blowfish (Fugu). Also in the area are small boutiques and snacks shops which offers affordable clothing and local products. Do visit here at night to see the pretty decorations of the restaurants. 

It's like an amusement arcade

the iconic hanging Fugu lantern and the Tsutenkaku tower at the back
I would say Shinsekai would be a great place to have dinner with friends, stroll the streets together and be mesmerized by the brightly lit signs. 

That's my day in Nara and night in Osaka. Next two days will be city tour to Osaka's various landmarks. Just gonna enjoy the bright sun, drink some coffee and experience this and that. 

**Accomodation: Shin-Imamiya Hotel 
Just wanted to complete the experience with a stay in capsule room. The hotel has both private bedrooms and capsule rooms. Unlike the block by block capsules, you do have a door to your room and there's a closet and a table with chair. Which I really like coz I need some space to organize my belongings after all that shopping! So if you wanna try out capsule beds without compromising personal space, this is the hotel to go! Made the reservation via AirBnb and the room rate was S$23 per night. 

complete with lights, TV, mirror and air conditioning.

Honestly I think having the TV inside the capsule is awesomeeee
could just watch TV until I fall asleep haha

Love Nuffnang


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