Nara is the capital of Japan’s Nara Prefecture, in south-central Honshu. It is one of Japan’s leading tourist destinations with three World Heritage sites.
There are many temples and shrines in Nara, such as “Todai-ji” and “Horyu-ji” which are well-known sightseeing spots. If you are visiting in April, you cannot miss Japan’s most famous cherry blossom spot “Yoshinoyama” – the view of sakura flowers are just superb. If you go to the south of Nara, you can enjoy the nature such as the famous mountains “Odaigahara” and “Mitarai valley”.
You will meet lot of friendly deers in Nara. Please don’t worry as they are very used to humans and will not attack.
Mount Yoshino or Yoshinoyama has been known as the most famous cherry blossom viewing spot in Japan. With over 30,000 cherry trees, the beautiful scenery is a must-see when visiting Nara.
Yoshino Ropeway is one of the oldest ropeways in Japan. Ride this cable car to experience the astonishing views of the mountain.
In 2004 it was designated as part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range.
Todaiji Temple is situated in the north of Nara Park and is one of the most well-known tourist attractions in Nara. It is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Todaiji is one of the Seven Great Temples of Nara.
Built and opened in 752 on the order of Emperor Shomu, Todaiji Temple’s Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsu-den) measures 48 metres high (157 foot) and is the largest wooden structure in the world. The hall houses Japan’s largest bronze statue – a darkened figure of the Cosmic Buddha (Dainichi Nyorai).
Nigatsu-do is located within the grounds of Todai-ji, and situated to the east of the Great Buddha Hall.
The name Nigatsu-do, which translates to “Second Month Hall”, derived from the the service Shuni-e Ceremony been held in the second month of the traditional lunar calendar. Shuni-e Ceremony is a ceremony held each year at certain Buddhist temples in Japan. At present, it starts on 1 March and ends on the 15th of the month.
Founded by Prince Shotoku in 607, Horyu-ji is one of the oldest temples in Japan, and houses the oldest wooden buildings in the world. As with Todai-ji, Horyu-ji is one of the Seven Great Temples of Nara. In 1993, together with Hokki-ji, Horyuji was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site under the name Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area.
Horyu-ji is located in the south of Nara. From Nara station, you can catch Yamatoji Line to Horyuji Station and it is approximately 20 minutes walk.
Yakushi-ji is a Buddhist temple that was one of the Seven Great Temples of Nara. It was established by Emperor Tenmu in 680. When Emperor Tenmu’s wife fell sick, he built Yakushi-ji in prayer for her speedy recovery. The word “Yaku” means medicine in Japanese, and the temple is strongly associated with medicine and health.
Yakushiji is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The Yakushi-ji temple is only a short walk from Kintetsu Nishinokyo Station.
Kofuku-ji is a Buddhist temple that was one of the Seven Great Temples of Nara. The temple was established in Nara at the same time as the capital of Nara in 710. The temple features a five-storied pagoda and a three-storied pagoda. The five-storied pagoda is Japan’s second tallest wooden pagoda, measuring 50 meters height. (The highest is Kyoto’s Toji temple).
Kofukuji is a five minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station, or a 20 minute walk from JR Nara Station.
Nara Park (Nara-Koen) is a large park with world famous temples, shrines and wild-roaming deers.
From Kintetsu Nara, the park is a 15-minute walk, and Nara station, it is about a 25-minute walk.
There is no admission fee and is free to enter.