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Nara and Uji: The Heart Temple

I can’t believe it’s almost September, it seems like 2017 just fly away so fast. I’m posting my first travel in 2017 now and I feel so bad because I write (and edit the photos) so slow. I am really really sorry, but I hope you still enjoy my post and find it useful. My first travel in 2017 was to Nara and Uji. I was in Kyoto for the year-end and because Nara and Uji are really close to Kyoto, we went there.

First stop: Nara

It was not my first time to Nara, I’ve been there on 2013, but that was my first time driving from Kyoto to Nara. It was a bad idea actually because it was the first day of the year and people went to the temple to Nara for the first temple visit of the year. The traffic was quite bad and it was hard to find a parking spot.

We went to the Todaiji temple to accompany my friend do the hatsumode. The temple is also very famous in Nara and lot of tourist bus stop there, you don’t have to worry if you go by public transport because it’s easy to get there. Todaiji is a large Buddhist temple with the largest bronze Buddha statue.

The temple is great, but I like the deer better than the temple. Nara is also known for the deers. It’s protected and you can see a lot of wilds deer in the park.

There are several temples in central Nara and the temples are connected by spacious, park-like, open area. You can just walk in the park and you can see a lot of deers.

Ok, they don’t seem dangerous, but again, they are wild deers. If you walk around with food on your hand, they might follow and try to snatch your food. Not only that, they might attack you (with the horns or kick you) if they feel threatened. Don’t let your guard down. 🙂

There are several stalls that sell foods, souvenirs, and deer’s food around the park. One package of the deer food is around 100yen. I bought one and try to feed them. However, when they saw me with a pack of food on my hand, they started to gather around me that I had to run away from them.

In Nara, the deer is considered as a protected animal. However, you can find deer meat at the other place of Japan.

Another thing you have to try here is the Yuba Ice-cream. I really like that in Japan, they sells a lot of unique-flavoured ice-cream depends on the season and the places. Yuba is actually a tofu-skin (bean-curd skin). Yuba is quite famous in Kyoto and I was so surprised to find ice-cream with Yuba flavour.

Second stop: Uji

We spent half day in Nara and then we decided to go to Uji. Uji is located between Kyoto and Nara. This town is famous for its matcha (green tea), if you want a good quality matcha you now know where to get it.

There is a place that I really want to visit in Uji. I saw the pictures of this temple called Shoujuin (正寿院) on a travel magazine and it was so pretty.

The transport to this temple is quite rare, you need to take bus or drive car to get to this temple. I think that’s why there are not many tourist know about the temple.

I think that what makes this temple special is the heart-shaped window inside the temple. Behind the window, you can see a peaceful Japanese Garden -which I think will be prettier if you come on Spring or Autumn-.

It was holiday when we arrived (1st – 3rd January is new year holiday), and so does the temple. My friend then tried to talk with the management, saying we came all the way from Tokyo to Kyoto just to visit this temple and they let us in for few minutes. I’m really really thankful for them.

They also offered a drive back to the station, however, we had a car so we politely decline they offer. Really, Japanese’s thoughtfulness and hospitality never failed me.

I’m attaching the address of the temple here. There are a lot of temples with similar name, so please be careful.

〒610-0211 Kyoto Prefecture, Tsuzuki District, Ujitawara, 奥山田川上149

Lastly before going back to Tokyo, we tried one last desserts in Kyoto. We went to a popular Matcha cafe in Kawaramachi –> Matcha House and they serve tasty matcha-based desserts and drinks.

My boyfriend is lactose intolerant. He ordered this Mizu Shingen Mochi. The taste is not bad either.

The famous desserts from this cafe is these Uji Matcha Tiramisu and Houjicha Tiramisu.

It’s actually a square tiramisu in a wooden box. There’re mascarpone cream and sponge cake on the bottom of the box and they sprinkle a lot of matcha powder on the top of the cake. The bitterness of the matcha really mix well with the sweetness of the cake (do I sound like a pro chef already?)

This place is really famous, so you might have to line if you visit this place. Here’s the address of the shop:

〒604-8026 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, 河原町通四条上ル米屋町382‐2

This post concludes my trip in Kyoto.

TL;DR If you go to Kyoto, I think there’s no harm in visiting Nara too. It’s so close with Kyoto and the transport does not cost that much. You can just do a day trip to Nara because the city is not super big either.

However, trip to Uji and Shojyuin might be a little bit tricky. If you’re not really fond of temple or not so curious about the temple, I think you can opt for another places.


That’s all folks. See you at the next post.

And as usual, I’ll be more than happy to receive and read your comments. Have a good day!


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