Nara - Japan Travel Guide - Japanspecialist


Japan's very first capital.

About Nara
Located close to Kyoto, Nara was Japan's first capital. The mysterious feeling of ancient Japan is found here among giant Buddhas and sacred forests. If you are interested in Japan's cultural history, you should definitely pay a visit and it’s only a short train ride from Kyoto (about 45 minutes).

A charming town with cultural treasures
Nara was established as Japan's first capital dating back to 710. As the city's founding coincides with the arrival of Buddhism in Japan, the city now appears as an architectural gold mine with beautiful temples and pagodas. Most of these are concentrated in Nara Park, a large green area in the middle of the city. In the park, more than a thousand wild but peaceful Shika deer roam freely - a relic from the time when deer were considered divine messengers. The animals will happily eat any food you carry, so keep your eyes open! Among Nara's myriad attractions, the Todai Temple is a favourite. Here stands the world's largest Buddha figure in bronze - 16 meters high with a weight of 437 tons. The statue dates from 752 and is under the world's largest wooden structure. The temple's entrance gate from 1199 is flanked by two 8-meter-high statues. These, together with the gate, represent Japan's finest wood carving works. If you have more time, the beautiful and colourful Kasuga Taisha shrine is a must. It is one of the most important shrines within the Japanese natural religion, shinto, and was founded at the same time as Nara itself. It is known as “the lantern shrine” as hundreds of lanterns show the way to the shrine through the forest. Finally, we recommend a walk through the town centre where you will find local craft shops and sake distilleries.

Other attractions in Nara
If you have more time, it is worth visiting the Horyuji Temple area, which can be visited on a day trip from Nara (30-45 min). Dating back to the year 607, this large temple complex is one of the oldest temples in Japan. The world's oldest preserved wooden buildings are part of the UNESCO-protected complex.

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