Exploring Osaka & Nara Prefecture

With around 19 million people and as the 2nd largest city in Japan, Osaka was quite the experience. I flew in from Hanoi around the end of November and was immediately struck by how organized and orderly things seemed to be. Getting the bus tickets at the airport to get into town, even the ‘outdated’ technology seemed clean, precise, and unbreakable. I was surprised, though, that such a technologically advanced country would still be dealing with coins and cash. I had been accustomed to using WeChat and scanning QR codes in China, that I’d figured Japan would be all about that. I wasn’t expecting to have to chase down coins worth $5+ from falling out of my pocket. I caught the bus into town and met up with Bella. It was difficult to find decent hostels or accommodation for a cheap price in the city, but we managed to find a place, conveniently located near the metro rail and the night markets.

During the day we went down some of the streets and they had everything from Kobe beef, seafood, oysters, fish, squid, you name it.

We were able to get wifi at the Lawsons and 7-11s around town since we didn’t have cell service.

We walked everywhere.

It was insane and mind-boggling for me to see all the lights, billboards and advertisements along the river.

It was an organized chaos. The amount of stuff was overwhelming. Constantly bombarded with new sights. But also feeling calm and like people were “in place”, everything felt like it is where it was supposed to be. Very purposeful.

The most counter-intuitive thing for me during my stay in Japan was the lack of trashcans, yet there was no litter or trash to be seen. Where did everyone put their trash? Their pockets?

We went to Osaka Castle and walked around the grounds, the trees were perfectly manicured and I heard that people will volunteer and adopt a tree to take care of it. This mindset was very impressive. People respect others and their community. Towards the end of our tour, we saw an old man and his pet Eagle in the park.

The next night we caught the train to Nara.


Visiting Nara around the beginning of December was super Christmas-y.

The sheer amount of deer was one thing, but the overall atmosphere seemed very festive. From the small mom and pop shops with pine decorations and lights to the..deer.

We stayed at a hotel just across from the train station (the ride in from Osaka was short and took maybe 1.5 hours).

We were greeted by a robot that was trying to be of some use.

But ultimately settled on the human interaction and checking into our room. You can easily catch the bus to the park and it goes in a loop around the town. Deer and humans co-existing was a pretty majestical site to see. The whole town’s economy seemed to be based on these deer and their attraction, bringing in tourists from all over. It’s about $1.50 for deer crackers and they didn’t last long. The deer do this kind of cute head nod like, “sup, give me crackers yo!”. The hungrier they are the more head nodding is involved. We walked around the town and went to different parts of the prefecture. The temple had the most amount of deer and tourists. It truly was like a Studio Ghibli film and a bit surreal.

We walked through a peaceful garden.

Paid notice to the warnings about how to treat and respect the deer.

And climbed Waskakau mountain. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such colorful leaves in my life.

Joseph Pallante
Joseph Pallante
An avid traveller, Joe enjoys spending time exploring the New Zealand countryside. In his spare time, he travels around in his campervan, writes about nature and how to live a frugal and sustainable lifestyle.

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