Nara Discovery and Temple Stay - Japanspecialist
Experience Japan's fascinating history and spiritual soul.
You will explore Japan's ancient capital Nara, where ancient treasures are hidden around every corner. You then continue to the beautiful Mt. Koya (Koyasan), one of the most sacred places in the country. You will experience an overnight stay at a shukubo (temple lodging) where you can get a taste of a monk's lifestyle, eating vegetarian monk's cuisine (shojin ryori) and attending the morning prayers. The whole area offers many opportunities to get close to Japanese Buddhism for a fascinating spiritual exploration.
The small town of Nara, close to Kyoto, was Japan's very first capital. You have two nights at a traditional Japanese inn (ryokan), nestled in the middle of this charming city's historical treasures.
Visit Nara Park, where you can pet and feed the friendly deer. They are considered the gods' messengers and therefore they can roam freely in this holy place. The park leads to the Todai-ji temple. Inside is the world's largest bronze Buddha statue.
Make your way to the beautiful and colourful Kasuga Taisha Shrine which is one of the most important in the Japanese religion, Shinto. It was founded at the same time as Nara itself, and was for many years ritually destroyed and rebuilt every 20 years - a reminder of the transience of life.
After exploring the park and surrounding area, head to Naramachi, the old town where you will find traditional and well-preserved houses. Remember to visit a sake brewery as sake originates from Nara.
The outskirts of Nara, often forgotten by tourists, are also rich in cultural treasures. You can take a short train ride to Horyu-ji temple. Founded in 607, it's one of Japan's oldest temples and contains the world's oldest wooden buildings.
During cherry blossoms, in early April, it is recommended to take a day trip to Mt Yoshino, a spectacular cherry blossom spot, with over 30.000 cherry trees planted around the mountain's slopes. Then, return to your ryokan for dinner.
After two days in Nara, your journey continues to the holy place of Mt. Koya. The mountain is the resting place of Kobo Daishi, the man who introduced a form of Buddhism called Shingon ("the true word") to Japan.
On Mt. Koya, you'll stay in a temple with the monks. You get the opportunity to join morning prayer and eat the delicious vegetarian monk diet called shojin ryori. There are many temples in Mt. Koya, all with their own distinctive features.
The absolute holiest site in the area is the large burial site Okunoin, where you can find the grave of Kobo Daishi.He entered an eternal meditation so that he could pass on his insight, and every day a monk brings food to his grave. Many other important historical figures have been buried here.
After breakfast at your temple, a scenic train ride will take you back to the material world, to the city of Osaka. You have one night in a central western hotel. Osaka is considered by many as their most colourful and unpretentious metropolis. Taste the local street foods like takoyaki or okonomiyaki and stroll through the animated downtown areas of Namba or Dotombori.
Continue your journey to another destination in Japan or take a flight home from Osaka.
Length: 5 Days
Visiting places: Nara, Mt. Koya, Osaka
Departing from: Kyoto
Price: From EUR 610,- (learn more about prices)
- 1 night in Japanese style temple in Mt. Koya
- 1 night in western style hotel in Osaka
- 3-day Kansai Thru Pass (between Nara, Mt. Koya and Osaka)
- Dinner and breakfast in Nara and Mt. Koya
- Valuable and detailed information about your trip
- Beverages during meals included (except tap-water and green tea)
- Meals not mentioned above
- Local city tax which needs to be paid on the spot
- Excursions and optional sightseeing tours
- Travel and cancellation insurance