Monday, January 11, 2016

Kyoto ’15, Day 7 – Visiting Nara and Sushi-Go-Round

On Friday the 16th of October we would depart for Kyoto. My mom and I woke up on time, had delicious breakfast and packed our last things. We dragged our suitcases downstairs, checked out of the hotel and took some outfit pictures. We wanted to leave well on time, since we wanted to take a (fairly) early train, because we were planning to go to Nara!

Outfits of the Day
Our outfits of the day.

We took the tram to Hiroshima station and went to find the Shinkansen office. In order to get to Kyoto, we needed to take two different Shinkansen trains so I wanted to try and reserve seats. We soon found the office and stepped inside. There were two desks and we ended up in front of the right desk, with a small old man sitting behind it. He didn’t seem very happy, however he was still polite. Once we had communicated where and how we wanted to go, he showed us our first train was already completely reserved. So our only option was to board one of the non-reserved cars. Our second train from Shin-Kobe however was not a problem, so we made a reservation for that train. My mom and I went back to a small supermarket to get some drinks for the road. We wanted to try new things and it was no problem at all since we barely spotted anything recognizable. So my mom ended up with a ‘salt and lychee’ drink while I wanted to try the milk tea with cute Disney characters on it. We were much too early at the station, but we didn’t mind at all since we didn’t need to hurry. So we just sat down on a bench and waited.

Shinkansen Times
Waiting for the Sakura train.

It was then that we noticed just how noisy the Shinkansen part of the station was. Every time a train was approaching, an alarm would start blaring and since there were a lot of platforms and incoming trains, the alarm went off and off. I felt sorry for the platform staff. x)
In the meantime, a small line started forming and I decided to line up as well. Soon my mom joined. We were about fifth in line so I figured getting seats wouldn’t be so problematic.

In Line
Standing in line for the Shinkansen. This wasn’t our train yet by the way.

Soon the train arrived and I discovered the mistake I had made in my head. I had forgotten Hiroshima was not a depart station, but a transit station. This meant that there might already be people sitting in the train. Which was certainly the case unfortunately! When we entered the train, most seats were already taken. Luckily, my mom and I managed to get two seats behind each other. However, there was no way to stow our luggage in the overhead compartments, so we just put them in front of our knees. We were actually quite lucky: some people had to stand or sit in the alleyway. We were sitting fairly comfortable, so it was okay.
I listened to some music and took some selfies. Initially I hadn’t noticed, but my mom was making weird faces behind me. The next one is my favourite, although by then I had figured out her scheme. XD

Shinkansen Selfies
Very nice, mom. XD Also, that sleeping man next to her really completes this picture.

I also drank my milk tea, which was incredibly delicious to my great surprise! It tasted just like my favourite Bubble Tea back home, I was overjoyed! <3 My mom’s drink was really weird by the way. At least she liked it. In return, she hated mine.

Mysterious Drinks
Drinks, drinks, drinks~!

After a while, one of the passengers next to my mom left so we went to sit next to each other. After a while, we arrived in Shin-Kobe and my mom and I left the train. We waited for a while and then our next train arrived. The reserved car was almost empty this time! It was very relaxing to just sit down without having a lot of people around you.

Shinkansen Trip Two
On our way to Kyoto!

We arrived in Kyoto around 1 pm. The sky was beautifully blue, the perfect day for a trip! We walked into the giant, crowded station and stared up at the ceiling for a moment. This station is just so incredible!

Kyoto Station
The incredibly impressive Kyoto station.

We walked out of the station and went to find our hotel. The Kyoto Tower was shining in the sun, very hard to miss. I had a bit of trouble figuring out my map for a moment and went to ask for our hotel’s location, but in the end we walked the right way and it was really just around the corner of the station. A perfect location! To be honest, I was a little bit worried about this hotel. Compared to the other hotels we had booked, this one seemed… a little dodgy to me? I am not sure whether that is the right word. This hotel was smaller and not very pretty, even the staff (as we would experience during our stay) wasn’t 100% friendly. However, the location was great so that was already a big plus!
We left our luggage at the hotel and went on our way to Nara! Well, after we had some coffee and… donut balls(?) at a café. They were really nice. ^^

Donut Balls
“Lunch”. ^^

During our previous stay in Kyoto I had already learned that Kyoto station and I are no friends. Where I am generally perfectly capable of finding my way in other stations, Kyoto station is just so unclear and weird! During this stay, we officially became enemies! XD Anyway, we found the right train and started our journey to Nara.
It took long! I didn’t know Nara was that far away from Kyoto! I thought it was maybe a 20 minute ride, but I believe it was around 45 minutes/an hour or so! Our only view was fields of yellow flowers and houses which I usually like, but after a while it became a bit monotonous

On The Way to Nara
One of the views from our train.

Eventually, we finally arrived in Nara and it felt like a slap in the face. Maybe I hadn’t read enough about this place, but somehow we were expecting this peaceful sweet village, a bit like the houses and shops on Miyajima. However, Nara was… a city. Like any other city, with grey buildings and flats. But somehow, I felt quite down just walking out of the station. It was not a very nice place… My mom felt exactly the same, very strange.
Anyway, we didn’t let a couple of buildings stop us, so we went to ask for directions. Our goal was the Todaiji Temple. Apparently, most of the deer (which were our superior main goal, haha) apparently roamed there. However, a friendly station lady said it would take over 40 minutes(!) to walk there and that instead taking the bus would be better. So we exited the station and walked up to the bus. I asked the driver’s assistant (I guess that’s what he was) whether the bus drove past Todaiji Temple and the man confirmed, not very friendly however. And it was 200 yen per person, no matter the distance, which was very pricey compared to other places we had been! It was clear they were very focused on tourists here. I nodded and my mom and I entered the bus. We wanted to sit down, but the bus driver’s assistant ran after us, literally yelling we had to pay in advance! It was just so rude, especially since in most buses we had been in before we had to pay afterwards. That was not a very nice experience.

Nara Bus
Riding the not-so-fantastic Nara bus. x)

A nice couple let us take a look at their map for a moment and then we arrived at Todaiji Temple, where we followed the stream of people. We immediately spotted deer in the distance! Deer, yay! *o* We entered the park leading to the temple and saw so many deer, it was great! We spotted a small stall where they sold special deer crackers to give to the deer. Of course my mom and I didn’t want to pass on such a wonderful thing, so we both bought a package for 150 yen.

Deer Crackers
Deer crackers look a lot like cookies! ♥

Of course many deer quickly realised we had food and came up to us. We wanted to take our time feeding the deer, so we only gave out little pieces of cracker. Feeding the deer was very fun, except for the fact the male deer weren’t… very friendly. When they wanted to be fed and we weren’t fast enough for them, they bumped their head against our leg or butt. Even though their antlers were filed short, this actually hurt quite a lot! Some were even quite aggressive! My mom and I decided to try to avoid the males and focus on the females and baby deer. When we consequently followed our own advice, feeding the deer was amazing. They were all so cute and had the most beautiful eyes and fur! Their lips carefully took the food from our hands and they were so gentle and sweet! It was lovely. ♥

Deer One
Feeding the deer of Nara.

We passed a brilliant sign that said: ‘The deer of Nara Park are wild animals. They can occasionally attack people, so please be careful.’ It was accompanied by pictures of deer attacking people, it was amazing. XD

Deer Sign
The dangerous deer of Nara. Dun dun dun…

We walked in the direction of Todaiji Temple while feeding deer along the way. Sometimes we were surrounded by three or four deer! You’d expect that they’d be sick of those deer crackers having to eat them every day, but none of it.

Deer Two
Feeding the dear was just so, so great. ;_; ♥

We reached the entrance to Todaiji Temple, where the deer no longer followed us since they had learned it’s not allowed. The building leading to the Todaiji Temple grounds already looked quite impressive by itself!

Todaiji Temple
My mom in front of the entrance to the Todaiji Temple grounds.

I paid for two tickets at the desk and my mom and I walked up to one of the three ticket gates. Then, in the distance, we could see the Daibutsuden of Todaiji Temple. This massive building is the biggest wooden structure in the world (not surprising) and home to a 15 meter tall Buddha! When I looked up information about Nara, there were only two things I really wanted to see: the deer and this temple.

Building of Wood
The Daibutsuden of Todaiji Temple. ☆

I cannot really explain it, but I was really mesmerized by this building. The enormous wooden building, striking in front of the perfectly blue sky. It was so big. Pictures and videos just don’t do it justice!

Just look at how small the people are in front of the entrance!

We walked up to the building and climbed the big steps. In front of the entrance was a small bowl with sand, a small fire and incense sticks. Usually, when we visit a church, my mom and I light three candles for three family members who all passed away in 2010. This time, we decided to light incense sticks for them.

Incense Fire
Incense has such an amazing, special smell.

We entered the Daibutsuden and immediately found ourselves right in front of the Buddha! Wow, I cannot tell you how big it is. It’s 15 meters tall, incredibly impressive and nearly impossible to get it on camera for me because it was such a dark statue. -_- Nevertheless, I hope this picture can give you an impression of it. It was amazing!

The enormous Buddha. Pictures really don’t do it justice.

Next to the Buddha there were more statues of several gods, a stand where yo could sponsor a temple tile for the roof, models of the building and a lot of pillars. One pillar had a hole in it, at the base. Apparently, being able to climb through it brings good luck, but the hole was honestly really small and getting stuck in their was very likely for a lot of people. Nevertheless, I watched as some people took their chance and some succeeded! Not me though, no way I wanted to embarrass myself. x)

God, Hole, God
Kokuuzobosatsu on the left, Koumokuten on the right and the hole of doom in the middle.

At the end of our round were a bunch of souvenir shops. I ended up buying a small and cute deer key chain there. My mom actually bought multiple things!
We left the Daibutsuden and headed back to the deer park.

Daibutsuden Selfie
Selfie in front of the Daibutsuden. ♥

We had of course arrived in Nara well in the afternoon, so it was time to slowly head back to the train. While walking back to the bus, we fed a lot of deer, so it still took a long time for us to get to the bus stop. But the deer were just so cute! ;_; <3

Feeding the Deer
My favourite picture of me with a deer. It’s just so cute! ^o^

Then it was finally time to really say goodbye to the deer. ;_; I love deer so much, they are so sweet and cute. I wonder if I’ll ever return to Nara, but being able to visit it once is really like a dream come true!

Bye Deer
A last cute deer picture, just for you! ♥

We passed some cool-looking rickshaws and found the right bus that took us back to Nara station. This bus driver was also very grumpy and rude. While sitting in the bus and looking outside, we realised that we really dislike Nara. Yes, the deer (who literally walk everywhere by the way, even at the most random places) are amazing and the sights are wonderful. But the city itself is grey and depressing. It was honestly pretty disappointing. Maybe I just got the wrong impression somehow, but well. The deer however were amazing, which made everything so much better. ♥
We arrived at the train station and I noticed a train back to Kyoto station would depart soon. When we entered the train, the most magical thing happened. An old lady entered after us, grabbed the back seat of a bench and just switched it to the other side so she could sit down and face the travel direction (is that even a word?)! These seats were super versatile! Not only could you change the back seat so you could face the travel direction, you could also form a four-seater at will! The lady was quite pleased to see my amazement, haha!
We sat down and the train departed. Unfortunately, as I later realised, our train to Nara had been a rapid train that only stopped at a few stations, but this train stopped at every single station between Nara and Kyoto. The train ride took sooo long… Well, maybe it wasn’t long at all, I have no idea, but it felt like hours! Plus, in the seats next to us there was a family with annoying children and it was just awful. I was so grateful when we arrived in Kyoto! I can honestly say our trip to Nara had been one with big ups and big downs. x)
By now it was time to eat, so after a short discussion my mom and I decided to try something we really wanted: the conveyor belt sushi (or ‘sushi-go-round’) restaurant we had seen during our previous stay. When we visited Kyoto in April 2014, we had seen a sushi restaurant with a merry-go-round of sushi in the restaurant window. It looked absolutely amazing, but we never got the chance to eat there. So this time, we wanted to try it! Somehow I found the right hall and soon we spotted the restaurant! It was strange and great to see it was still there, unchanged. However, a small line was standing in front of the restaurant. After a few seconds of doubting and discussing, my mom and I decided to see how long it would take.

The sushi-go-round restaurant we had been dreaming of for 1½ years!

In the end, it didn’t take long at all! We talked for a bit with the lovely Belgian couple behind us and soon we were seated on a bench in the restaurant itself to wait for the next couple of people to leave. It was actually quite nice, since it gave us the opportunity to look around well. The restaurant was really amazing. People sat around the conveyor belt while chefs inside the ring prepared the food, visible for the customers. They prepared sushi like lighting! It was great to watch. Then it was our turn! We were seated at a corner along the
conveyor belt.

Sushi Chefs
The sushi chefs at work.

Soon the Belgian couple joined us and they told us they had chosen this restaurant because Tripadvisor said it was the best conveyor belt sushi restaurant in all of Kyoto! Lucky us!
My mom and I first just observed for a bit to figure out the system and to see what kind of plates passed us by. We quickly figured out the system and decided to only take blue and rainbow plates, since those were the cheapest.

Conveyor Belt
The plates of sushi passing us by. I quite liked sitting at the corner.

And everything was so good! ;_; Of course we were hungry, but I can honestly tell you the sushi was delicious. We also ate a lot of ginger, because my mom and I both love it (hehe). It was so much fun to wait for something you wanted. When they were out of a certain kind of sushi or other food, the chefs prepared new ones immediately. The most varying things passed us by. My mom even tried one kind of sushi with tiny elvers. At first we thought it was bean sprouts, but then the bean sprouts had really small eyes. x) No thank you.

Sushi Close Ups
Some sushi (and other food) close ups.

So yeah, our dinner was absolutely great. ^^ And so cheap! We ate quite a lot, our stack of plates was so big! And we still paid less than 2000 yen! Amazing…

Plate Stack
Finished! Please keep in my mind that these are both our plates. x)

We headed back to our hotel, checked in and picked up our luggage. We took the tiny elevator up to our floor and soon found our room. It was small, but comfortable and despite the interesting green bed sheets the beds were super comfortable. The bathroom however was super small and the shower tiny! But we didn’t mind one bit. The room was better than I expected, so yay!
I bought some drinks from a vending machine on another floor, we skyped and then went to bed. It had been a great day.

Purchase of the Day
Purchase of the day

And to end this post with, here is the video I made about our adventures in Kyoto! I filmed a lot and tried to make the best videos I could about our trip. I hope you will like it! ♡
You can find day 7 from 0:00 until 3:04. Please take a look if you want! ♡

Thank you for reading! ~☆~


  1. I went to Nara several years ago and one deer bit me as well as one of my fellow travellers in order to get food. I wonder if the offending deer were male (I didn't pay attention on the sex of the deer) Did that happen to you?

    1. We were not directly bitten, but one bit my mom's skirt. Maybe if we hadn't avoided them it would have happened, they were not very nice. ^^'