Trashcan Hunt at Nara Park

Location: Nara

No, I did not come to specifically to Nara to search for trash cans.

After visiting Daigo-ji, I decided to spend the rest of my afternoon in Nara.


East Golden Hall (Tō-kondō)


Five-storied pagoda (Gojū-no-tō)

Nara was the former capital of Japan established by Empress Genmei on 710 AD. Nara is the oldest capital in Japan wherein during the Nara period, Buddhism was permanently established. Temples such as Todai-ji were built during this period. Due to its past, Nara is home to many historical and cultural treasures. For instance, some artworks and imported treasures during the era of Emperors Shōmu and Shōtoku are archived in Shōsō-in of Tōdai-ji temple. Nara prefecture also holds the most UNESCO heritage listings than any other prefectures in Japan.Once you enter the park, Kofuku-ji can easily be reached within few minutes. An icon of Nara,   its was one of the “Four Great Temples” of the Nara period (710-794), and one of the “Seven Great Temples” of the Heian period (794-1185).Nara

It was past lunch time when I arrived at Nara. My first thought was to find something to eat.  There were plenty of restaurants near Kintetsu station, I decided to have my first taste of kakinoha-zushi at a nearby shop. I bought the sushi then walked towards the park. It took about 10 minutes to get to Nara Park from the station.

I admired the scenery before my eyes for about five minutes but my stomach kept growling for the sushi.  Since Kyoto and Nara are quite far from the coast, it was difficult to source fresh fish back in the old days. Kakinoha-zushi is a kind of sushi that is made up of cured fish-mackerel usually and is wrapped with persimmon leaves, the anti-microbial properties of the leaves help the sushi stay fresh.


The local folklore says that one of the four Gods of Kasuga shrine, Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto (anyone reading Noragami?) visited Nara riding a white deer and as a result of this lore, the deer of Nara have been considered sacred and divine for the last 1,300. The deer lost its divine status in the present day but they are still considered as treasures and are protected by the city.

So this is where the hunt for trash cans begin. I could not find a trashcan to throw the container so I decided to hold it a bit longer and just explore the park.

The hordes of deer or shika, are roaming everywhere and you can see plenty of tourist feeding them with crackers. You can tell that they were used to human interactions, given their ease despite the number of people crowding them, they are friendly but of course, don’t provoke them.

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I was busy taking photos of a deer when I heard the sound of drums. The poor deer got scared and ran away. It turned out that there was a street performance! I cannot believe my luck, witnessing the Goma ceremony plus this performance was an enriching experience for me. I watched the musicians and followed them as they move from one area of the park to other areas.

The performance concluded after 15 minutes and then I realized, I was still holding the container. So I kept on walking around and saw a crowd gathering at a shop near the shopping arcade, voila! I saw an incredible demonstration on how mochi is made.

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I explored the shopping district for several minutes and got lost yet again in looking for trash cans. I decided to ask someone because it’s been an hour and I’m still holding on to my container. A kind man helped me when he offered to throw my container inside his shop, I felt bad for troubling him though. I did not find any trash cans in the end (I’m still baffled by their nonexistence), and left the area wondering if my eyesight was getting worse.

It was already late in the afternoon and I was quite happy while I recounted how this day turned out. Before leaving, I vowed to come back to Nara since the few hours I spent there were not enough.

Nara is a great area to visit should you be in the Kansai area. The history and culture of Nara will especially enthral along with the friendly deer that will flock you.

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