We took the train to Nara from Kyoto, checked into the Nara-Tree Guesthouse in Naramichi historical district then had lunch at Ashura, an organic vegan-friendly place that served curry, samosas and fried croquettes with carrot juice.
Filled with fuel, we set off on a walking tour of Nara. We walked through a crafty shopping district, past the Sarusawa-like pond with turtles and koi to Kofukuji Temple and the 5 story pagoda. Then we continued past the cracker-eating deer to Todaiji Temple with the Daibutsu. It’s quite dark inside the wooden building so it’s actually almost impossible to get a photo of the giant Buddha. Benno managed to squeeze through the hole the size of the Buddha’s Nostril, again (he did it 14 years ago and is the same size now!). Then we headed up the hill to a giant bell, the Nigatsu Hall with lovely views of Nara, past Hokke-do down through the Kasugayama Primeval Forest to Kasuga Taisha Shrine which is another UNESCO site. Kasuga Taisha Shrine had moss covered stone lanterns lining the path and two men were practicing playing taiko drums while we wandered along the paths.
We ate peach flavoured shaved ice (kaki kori) and mogwort toasted mochi on the way then had sweet potato fries from a stand on the way home. We ate dinner and watched “Tokyo Godfathers”, a Japanese anime movie at the guesthouse. We would not recommend Nara-Tree guesthouse to anyone as it was really poorly run and not kept very clean. But there was air-conditioning in our bedroom at least.