The city of Nara is next in my series of travel photos and bento inspired by my trip to Japan. My Mom and I visited Nara as a day trip from Kyoto.
I laughed out loud at the results of my Great Buddah quesadilla. It does seem funny to make a Buddha quesadilla. I served it to my 15 year old niece for lunch at my house.
Top Left: 2 deer shaped tortillas browned in a skillet with cooking spray, raw green beans
Bottom Left: Blueberry yogurt with toasted hazelnuts
Right Side: Buddha quesadilla with food marker details, another quesadilla behind with blue food coloring and water painted on then blotted with a paper towel
Nara is a common day trip from Kyoto. I reserved a free Goodwill Guide from the YMCA in Nara. It is a wonderful service that matches English speaking volunteer guides with tourists. I arranged via email a guide for the day and time we wanted. Our guide met us at the JR station in Nara. We toured with her in the morning. She was very knowledgeable about the sites and culture.
In this bento I attempted to depict latte art with almond butter and dry milk powder. I made a stencil from a photo of our latte art we enjoyed in Nara. It is an open faced sandwich but the other piece of bread fit nicely under the top one so I ate it by putting both of them together. It probably would have looked better if I did not use an English muffin and used a smoother surface.
Container: Kokeshi box
Top Tier: Dried cherries and apricots
Middle Tier: Toasted English muffin with almond butter, dried milk powder
Bottom Tier: Salad of lettuce and carrots
Our guide picked us up at the Nara station and drove us around in her car. It was my Mom’s first (and only) time in a car in Japan. It is a slightly difference experience because they drive on the opposite side of the road than they do in the United States.
Our guide brought vegetable scraps from her home to feed the deer. Traditionally in Nara people can buy rice crackers and make the deer bow their heads. Some deer bowed for the vegetable peelings. I also saw a deer bow her head when I did not have food with me.
The deer in Nara are known for being slightly aggressive in search of food. This sign warns visitors that the deer can bite, kick, butt, and knock down people. I did see many people carry their dogs past the deer. It is probably best not to bring your dog to Nara.
Our guide shared with us the spiritual aspects of visiting this temple. She also shared information about how they clean the Buddha and showed us photos from a book. It made the whole experience more meaningful having a person tell us details that we may have otherwise been unaware.
We also visited the Isuien Garden. It was on the list of things we wanted to see with our guide. It is such an amazing, beautiful place. Words or photos do not do it justice.
These trees have what is called komomaki (straw covers). They are used in the winter. The Pine Moth goes into the straw and in the spring gardeners remove the straw and burn it, eliminating the Pine Moth. A detailed explanation about komomaki is here.
I was impressed by this pattern made with pine needles. I do not know if this is typical to see in Japanese gardens but I don’t think I had seen it before.
In the afternoon my Mom and I met my language exchange partner who lived within a day trip from Nara. It was so wonderful to spend time in person with her instead of speaking via Skype! Since she knew I was interested in Japanese latte art, she found a cafe in Nara for us to have coffee. The coffee and dessert were so cute and delicious!
We had a wonderful day in Nara. If you have the chance to visit Nara I recommend it.