Kansai Holiday Day 2: Nara, Alice & Dotonbori

We started our venture out of Osaka city on day 2, after a completely KO first night. The plan was to make a half day trip to Nara to visit the Nara Deer Park till maybe around 2pm and then shop around Shinsaibashi, followed by a quick visit to Alice on Wednesday to make my little Alice in Wonderland fan happy and then have dinner at Dotonbori.

But of course, with the kids around, all time schedule was thrown out the moment we stepped out of the hotel. There were a few ways to get to Nara from Osaka city, we took the Private Railway by Kintetsu. I wish I had done more research. I had thought that the railway would be the kind that has a table for us to eat our bento but I was wrong. There’s obviously a difference between the rapid and limited express railway, the price different was significant too, 560 yen Vs 1070 yen per one way trip. When Kay saw the difference in train, she kept asking to take the rapid one because it’s the one that comes with tables and all. We had wanted to compromise by taking the rapid train on the way back, but sadly, this rapid train only runs during rushed hour. So, we made adjustment on our day trip to Kyoto, instead.

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Japanese Train Tickets

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Shopping for Bento

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Back to the itinerary. We arrived at Nara around 10am and took our time to find our way around. Surprisingly, the walk to the Nara Deer Park only took us a few minutes. But we were surprised to see only a few deers. I very vividly remember seeing MANY deers when I was a child and was really traumatised by them. So, we figured that we should continue walking and so, instead of just looking for deers, we decided to visit Todaiji (东大寺)which we guessed is probably where the deers would be.

Along the almost 30 minutes walk, we were definitely accompanied by many  more deers and really pretty autumn colours.

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First sighting of deers

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Wefie at entrance of the Nara Park

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First sighting of Autumn Colours

We figured that we should let the girls try feeding the deers, in case we really won’t see any more deers. There were many roadside sellers of deer food. It cost 150 yen per stack of biscuits. The girls and the Mr did their maiden feeding of the famous Nara deers and like many who visited and warned, the deers were extremely friendly, to the extent of aggressive. As expected,  Kai was the first to be fightened and resisted feeding them. I did not snap many pictures of this deer feeding experience as we were quite busy helping the kids.

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Feeding in action

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Busy shielding Kai from an offensive deer

 

As we neared Todaiji, we could see the kids and the senior getting tired. Signs included, stops to kaypoh at little things such as below:

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Something she has never seen before in Singapore

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Peeking into an old traditional looking house

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And the senior wanted a sweet Potato which we had to shield from the Deers

 

After seeing these signs, we figured it’s either time to eat lunch OR find a place to sit down. And this was when we chanced upon a really charming little place, the Okumura Commemorative Museum, that claimed to offer free rest, free tea and free entrance. You know that since young, we were taught that nothing is free in this world, so we went into this place with lotsa skepticism. In the end, we were pretty charmed by this little house. Indeed, there were free resting chairs and free toilet use plus free tea for us. There’s a very pretty little garden with beautiful autumn leaves. The terrace on the second level offered a very lovely view of the Todaiji and Nara. Of course, out of courtesy, we found out more about this place. In summary, it displays works of the Okumura Corporation in its efforts to develop products to help strengthen Japanese houses in time of earthquake. The founder of the corporation was born in Nara and hence, this little resting place is a social project as a give-back to Nara. The Mr was also delighted to see Earthquake & Seismic Isolation Experience Device aka the chair to sit on to experience Earthquake movements. I think we were too comfortable in this little rest area that we almost forgot our final destination.

 

After the longer-than-expected rest, we continued on our journey. And finally we smelled it and we were greeted by hundreds of deers!

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This image does not do justice to the actual number of deers found

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Pretty harmless looking right? Wait till you hold food

As we walked towards the entrance of Todaiji, we could not help but stop to take more pictures. The light and the place really made every picture look good.

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Finally, we entered the huge open space in front of Todaiji. I wasn’t really expecting much honestly, but I  was totally wowed! The sight was more beautiful than I imagined.

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Since we were at the temple, we got to let the kids try some new experiences and also, seek some blessings.

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It’s a practice to clean our hands and face before entering the temple

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Making a wish

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I pray that I will like Primary School

So, after the visit to the temple and some shopping for charms, amulet and deers, we headed out of the temple compound and had our lunch at yet another, charming little restaurant which serves pretty local teishoku.

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The girls successfully brought back a family of deers

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My favourite! Hot Sake! Locally produced in Nara! Perfect for the chilly afternoon

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The girls’ Kids Plate out of the many through out the trip

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By 3 plus in the afternoon, we were pretty tired and couldn’t wait to get back to Osaka. But the little Kai got to throw us a tough question. She wanted to feed the deers. We decided that we will let her do that on the walk back to the station where the deers are less aggressive. But we realised as we neared the station, the roadside deer food sellers were gone, the deers as well. So, hating to disappoint her, my mum, Kay and sister rested at a bus stop while the Mr, Kai and I re-traced our foot steps and managed to find a lone seller and some deers. With that, Kai overcame her fear within the same day.

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Mission Accomplished! Let’s celebrate with a Deer Biscuit

The village was obviously dead beat from the day trip out to Nara. As if we hadn’t punished ourselves enough, I suggested to visit Alice On Wednesday in Namba, since we will be in that area for dinner anyway.

Turned out the place is located in a rather dodgy area and dangerous traffic. The kids obviously paid no heed to the situation. Although tired, when they saw the little entrance to the shop, they came alive! The shop was a complete disappointment – small and nothing much to shout about- but I guess seeing their happy faces when they see a ‘real’ Alice small door kind of make the trip worth it. Just feel a little pity that we reached there quite late (Skies turned dark around 5pm every day)  and so, couldn’t snap many nice pictures.

By the time we reached Dotonbori, which was a 10 minutes walk from Alice, we were very tired but not hungry. So we walked to the linking Shinsaibashi Shopping Street to do some window shopping. We also took some pictures at the famous Glico Running Man signboard.

Finally, we were hungry enough to eat. We settled on a familiar brand, Osaka Ohsho for some Gyoza. We were expected not to be impressed. But we were either too hungry or the food was simply so much better than the Singapore’s outlets, we enjoyed the dinner and we almost instantly re-energised.

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After the dinner, we also ticked off another item on bucket list – Takoyaki from the BIG Octopus shop which was right next to Osaka OhSho.

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And with, probably the best, takoyaki ever tasted, we ended the super tiring and demanding day 2 of our Kansai Adventure.

 

 

 

 

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