Osaka and Kyoto aside, visits to some of the (marginally) smaller towns in the Kansai region also made for some exciting learning experiences. Nara is famous for its free-roaming deer that happily sit around in the sun while waiting for over-excited tourists to feed them with the 100yen pack of deer biscuits that you can buy from one of the many biscuit vendors around the park. There were literally tons of deer roaming around, some of which were hungrier than others and kept chasing me around for more food. If anyone’s curious, deer biscuits taste like cardboard (I’m not the one who tried it, don’t ask me why anyone would). Also found in the Nara park area is the Todaiji temple, and it’s no exaggeration to call it a temple for giants. All you need to do is check out the tiny humans in the photo for scale. Out of all the temples we visited in Japan, I’d consider Todaiji as one of the most impressive, if only for its sheer size alone.
Another classic tourist sight that has to be visited would be the famous Himeji castle, known to be the most well-preserved Japanese castle in the entire country. We paid to go inside, but there’s really nothing spectacular within because there aren’t any relics or displays for viewing, so all you get is a glimpse of what the castle looks like on the inside (think wood, lots of wood).
When in Japan, try all the famous local specialties! You can’t go to Kobe without trying Kobe beef, which is supposedly the best beef in the entire world. After trying it, all I can say is that I totally understand where the praise is coming from–the beef is tender and juicy and smells absolutely heavenly when grilled in front of you on a hot plate. Another local specialty we tried were the beef tongues, which was definitely an interesting experience. If you’re wondering what tongues taste like, it’s far more chewy than other parts of the cow, but there’s something quite enjoyable about its texture!
Rounding off this series of Osaka travel posts, let me leave you with some of the sights at Osaka’s world-famous aquarium, touted to be one of the best in the world. The size of those crabs are no joke–I would be terrified if I bumped into one while diving in the sea. Sayonara Osaka, I’ll be back soon xxx