Before we arrived in Japan we had a concrete plan what cities we wanted to visit. One of these cities was Nara as it was mentioned at a Japan exhibition in Berlin we visited a year ago. Additionally we were curious what a colleague of mine meant with “watch out for the deer in Nara”. This is why we took the chance to have a day trip to Nara from Kyoto – and now we know what my colleague was saying.
So we started early in the morning as we knew it will take some time to get there and to come back. We had a reservation for a tea ceremony in the early evening – we had to be on time!
When we arrived in Nara we had a concrete target: we wanted to go to the top of Mount Wakakusa – a small mountain. From train station to Nara park we took a bus. Fortunately it was signed very well. Arrived there we headed to our target. While walking we already noticed all the deer around – so cute!
When we reached the mountain we knew that we would need to do some sports to get up, even though Mount Wakakusa is more like a huge hill.
Before you actually can walk up to the top you have to pay an entrance fee. It is definitively worth it!
From the images above you can get an impression of the view we had. When walking up you will pass 3 stages. We covered stage one and two with the first set of images. At stage one you have plenty of seating possibilities so it invites you for relaxing! At least for us a very welcome stop after the exhausting path. I am not sure anymore but I think we needed about 30 minutes to reach stage one.
Even though we saw many deer in the area of Nara Park we noticed on our way up a few more. In comparison to the their buddies at Nara Park they were a bit shy – not that bad in general.
When we reached stage three we could enjoy both the view and the tame deer as you can see on the images above.
You know, when you are at the top of a mountain you should keep in mind that you have to go down too. In our case we thought it would be easier but it wasn’t! But don’t be afraid. Most likely you are not such an unathletic guy as we are.
When we reached the ground of the mountain we got surprised by some pupils of a school class. They asked where we come from and what we like the most about Japan. As a thank you we got an Origami. Cool idea – they had to speak English to us and thus practice their language skills.
For the way back to the train station we decided to walk. So we saved some time and saw some funny stuff like this:
Not sure what these cats are about but I wanted to have a picture of it.
When we arrived in Kyoto we had only one hour left until our Tea ceremony starts so we tried to find a public toilet to get a short refresh (using some water and deo) before entering a room with others. And we had a bento to have kind of a lunch.
As Kyoto is known for its green tee and Bianca really loves Matcha we wanted to participate a tea ceremony. In Kyoto we found a place where tourists can participate the ceremony in smaller groups: Tea Ceremony En.
Unfortunately we don’t have pictures of this very nice experience as we didn’t want to disturb the atmosphere. But I can explain what we experienced!
First we had to be on time – something we should be in general, hehe. After waiting in front of the building which looks already pretty nice from the outside we were called in. We took of our shoes and sat down on a nice Tatami-floor. In total we have been around 10 participants if I remember correctly. Two of them were actually German as well.
Then the host started. She was explaining in a very nice English what the ceremony is about, why it is like it is and what are the tools they use for. It is very spiritual and focused on relaxing and becoming a part of your environment. So traditionally there is no small talk during the ceremony itself. When she left the room the ceremony started. To show how it works they have chosen the guest on the right hand side of the host. So she started to prepare Matcha tea in the sound of silence. It was very relaxing – if you ignore the way we were sitting – to just listen to the sound the water made when flowing into the cup.
Well, we were not the lucky ones sitting right to the host as they got a fresh made Matcha tea to drink. Still, the whole room was silent.
At the end she left the room for a minute and rejoined to open the 3rd part of the event. She explained what she did and why. She explained why to turn the cup two times clockwise in the beginning and how to hold the cup while drinking. I don’t want to spoil the reasons but of course you can find them in the internet easily. But I recommend to join a ceremony once to get an idea of the Japanese culture. Nevertheless, in the 3rd and last part we got the chance to make our own Matcha tea. It was very delicious and enjoyable.
After all it was totally worth it and we enjoyed a lot. We are lucky that we had the chance to make this experience.
When we left the ceremony it was already dark outside. Actually it was harvest moon, there were plenty of events this evening and we just walked around the area of Yasaka shrine as you can see on the images below. There was a celebration going on which we observed for a while.
At the end of that day we just walked around a bit, enjoying the time and the night. During our trip across Kyoto center we noticed some cool shops, some cool donut selling places and a crazy ice cream cafe. All this you can see o the images below. I really like the fried pork ice cream – but we didn’t try it.
Yeah, well this is everything about this day in Nara and the evening in Kyoto. It was an amazing experience and I know that we can spend much more time there. Maybe next time!
In case you have been there already, what did you visit? What can you recommend to others as a must-see? Let us know in the comments section.