Nara was one of the places that popped up on every Japanese itinerary I looked at while planning our trip, generally as a day trip from either Kyoto or Osaka. We decided to do it from Kyoto, and it was a reasonably short train ride away. I was pleased to see a few place with vegan options on Happy Cow, meaning that we didn’t need to take a convenience store packed lunch with us: hurray!
The place with the most Happy Cow reviews was Kinatei, a vegetarian place with mostly vegan options. It sounded so popular with tourists that we decided to rush there right from the train station to be there for opening time, fill up on noodles, and then get to the sightseeing. It turned out to be a brilliant plan!
There was a small menu – I think it was pretty much ramen with udon noodles or ramen with soba. For a little appetiser, we were given these pickles, which were colourful but not that remarkable.
Dr HH got the soba noodles, which he said came with exceptionally flavoursome tofu but a relatively bland but pleasant broth.
As usual, I only had eyes for the udon! The noodles were fat and delightful, but otherwise I agreed with Dr HH’s assessment: amazing tofu, pretty meh on the broth.
Most excitingly though, we got some actual Japanese sweets for dessert! Well, some fruit too (YAWN!). These little balls were sweet and sticky, and a very nice treat after lunch.
This place was extremely tourist-friendly, but I would say almost aggressively so – service was very interactive. We were handed a guest book to write a review almost as soon as we got through the door, and were told to put stickers on the wall map showing where we came from. The owner was very chatty, and also took a picture of us and asked for my email address to send it to us. It was nice in a way…but I just wanted to have my lunch in peace! I think some people would love this kind of service and a chance to get to know the locals, but it makes me feel quite awkward. I would still recommend it though, the owner was nice and the food set us up perfectly for an afternoon in Nara.
There are some exciting temples in Nara, but the main thing I knew about it in advance was that there were lots of deer wandering free. Obviously I’m an animal lover…but it’s very much a theoretical love, and I’m terrified of every animal I encounter in the wild. So to me, a trip to Nara was like a trip to Jurassic Park when the fences are down. This was not helped by the fact that I saw the deer in this picture use its nose to press the button to open a shop door. Much like the velociraptors, the deer have learned to open doors!
Most people were getting up close to the deer, stroking them and feeding them – many even manhandling them, which made me feel very uncomfortable. I’m not convinced that most people were acting in the best interests of the deer. I was a bit anxious about getting close to these fearsome beasts…
…in fact, this was as close as I was willing to get!
Do you share my terror of animals in the wild? Has anyone ever taken your picture in a restaurant?