How to Travel Japan on a $40 Budget - Day 27 Nara 2/2

Can you travel Japan on just $40 a day? We have 1 month in Japan to figure that out. Follow our blog to see how we travel Japan on a tight budget.

Where did we end up today in Japan?

Nara, Japan.

It’s the 5th of November, our second and last day in Nara. This is a great city for a day trip or overnight stay, but perhaps not much longer than that when trying to see more of Japan.

Where did we stay the night in Nara?

We stayed another night at Hostel & Gallery Gisgood.

Although the hostel has a terrific layout with unique punk-rock vibes, the bar below on the first floor pumped out blaring music all night. It's quite obnoxious and we can feel the bass reverberate even in our beds. Other than that, it's a comfortable stay, and if you bring some earplugs you'll be alright. 

What did we explore for our second day in Nara?

With another early start…

We steamed away on the train toward Hōryū-ji

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We came in with excitement and wonder as we stepped our feet into new lands. Upon entering the gates, we saw an expansive area and grew inspired to see more. We went further, until seeing a ticket office.

Uh oh…

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Here comes the budget, rubbing it’s hand all in our faces. We figured it wouldn’t hurt to check the price at least, so we did.

Off to the front, we tipped our heads up towards the back wall and read: 1500 yen.

…what a jaw-dropping price.

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There’s no way that we’d spend that kind of money, nearly half our budget at that, for a temple. Sorry, can’t do it. We’re well below $40 a day right now, and to break it now for this?

Not happening.

So, instead of taking the train back in haste, we walked around and saw what was available around.

We took a roundabout to see Fujinoki Tumulus

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Getting up close to the stone chamber was a sight for us, but sadly one of lowered expectations. While there is a small information structure at the front, the chamber itself is locked at a door. That took away all of the fun of coming out to see this otherwise big pile of dirt.

Yet after reading into it, there is much to be discovered still. Before you check it out, look into the times it may be open or face your reflection in a glass window.

We spotted turtles around the Mausoleum of Emperor Suinin

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Out in the middle of nowhere, we walked under the harsh sun through countless fields of underdeveloped farms and narrow streets. Clearing the smog of passing cars, we stepped alongside an enormous body of water.

It was only apparent after reading the sign, albeit in Japanese, that it was a burial mound for an emperor. We knew that it was a mound - that is why we came out here in the first place - but little did we know (due to no wifi) its history.

Walking its surroundings, it became clear that this was an important location. Perhaps one for you to explore yourself!

We peered over the landscape of Koriyama Castle

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Not much of a castle, for it was being reconstructed upon our arrival, but one worth checking out—if not for the free wifi nearby (for whatever reason).

You get a perfect 360 view around Nara here. Looking around, there aren’t that many buildings that offer this kind of view, which makes it a must stop in the area.

Off the distance you can see a restored gate, but not worth the walk over as we did. Stick to the castle and you’ll get what you came for: a marvelous view.

About to leave, an elder Japanese man approached us. Insisting that we follow him (in Japanese), we weren’t quite sure what he had in mind. Taking the plunge and stepping over fear, we came to see that we missed something. As he pointed to the rocks, he began explaining the cornerstones of the castle, and the little Buddha rocks that were tucked inside. Underneath the castle rocks, there is a small statue of a Buddha tucked away. When you visit, be sure to give a look around the base and see for yourself!

We walked the remainder of the day to the Kiko Temple

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Let’s be honest -  for how far you have to venture out from most of the other attractions, this one doesn’t cut it. It’s a great temple for what it’s worth; the spaciousness would be great for festivals and events. There wasn't any going on at the time, so when we reached it after 15+ miles of walking around, it didn’t add too much to an otherwise active day. We’d suggest skipping it and visiting another location instead.

We gorged on some scrumptious Yomogi mochi in the streets

If you find yourself in the area, definitely get you some. Don’t question it, just do it.

We passed by the crowd at Mister Mochi on the first go-around throughout the city, but when we came back the second day, we had to give it a try. There is a reason why these crowds build non-stop. For 130 yen, the price is great - and the taste... other-worldly.

How much did we spend traveling in Nara?

Food: ¥2567 / 22.67 (Yikes! 15 miles of walking does that to you.)

Transport: ¥540 / $4.7

Lodging:  ¥1148 / $10.14

Sightseeing: $0

Other: ¥220 / $1.94 (Band-aids for damage from the WWOOF farm.)

Total: $39.45 / ¥4483

Did we make our budget today in Nara? 

Barely, yes!

Not bad for our second day in Nara. We find that after we move to a city, we spend more money on food and fill our bellies up for a lot of walking around. Staying longer in one area definitely helps to curb expenses, but it all comes down to individual preference.

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Until then, safe travels!