Nara (奈良) is an ancient capital city in Nara Prefecture, Kansai region of Japan. Throughout 2010 the city celebrated its 1300th anniversary. Overshadowed by its more famous neighbor Kyoto, Nara is omitted from many a time-pressed tourist’s itinerary. However, Nara is home to many important scenic and historical sites, and today preserves its main sights much more attractively than Kyoto within Nara Park and neighborhoods like Naramachi.

Along with the development of Heijōkyō (平城京), the capital of Japan between 710-784 AD, Nara flourished under the influence of Buddhism, leading to the creation of an enormous number of cultural assets, buildings and books, many of which are preserved today. Nara has the largest number of buildings designated National Treasures in Japan.
While the Heijōkyō Palace (平城宮) site turned into plain fields after the capital was moved to Kyoto, the shrines and temples were left on the east side of the palace (called Gekyo (外京)), and Buddhism remained influential throughout the following centuries. Another part of the area developed as a merchant town, notably in the Edo period, known as Naramachi (奈良町) today.

Tōdai-ji (東大寺). Nov-Feb 8AM-4:30PM, Apr-Sep 7:30AM-5:30PM, Mar and Oct 8AM-5PM. Home to the famous Daibutsu (大仏), the largest Buddha statue in Japan and one of the largest in the world. The Daibutsu-den, which houses it, is said to be the largest wooden building in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The giant front gate, Nandai-mon, is guarded by two fierce, awe-inspiring protectors. It’s also swarmed by deer, who know this is the best place to come looking for a hand-out. Through the gate is a stone path leading to the outer walls surrounding the Daibutsu-den. Follow the signs to the left to enter the inner courtyard, and if you happen to have a stick of incense with you, join the crowd around the incense offerings before you head onward.

Kōfuku-ji (興福寺), 48 Noborioji-cho, ☎ +81 742 22-7755, [4]. 9AM-5PM. This temple has a three-story and a five-story pagoda; historically, the latter has contended with Kyoto’s Toji for the title of Tallest Pagoda in Japan, although Kofuku-ji seems to have surrendered for now. Eastern Golden Hall ¥500.

Most of Nara’s sights, including temples, shrines and famously mercenary deer, are concentrated in Nara Park (奈良公園 Nara-kōen), a wide, pleasant space of greenery. According to legend, the god of the Kasuga Taisha came riding a white deer in the old days, so the deer enjoy protected status as envoys of the god; however, based on their current behavior, either the deer have lost the job, or the god has taken an extremely passionate interest in biscuits from tourists (¥150), empty food wrappers and harassing shopkeepers. …WikiTravel


2 Dec

Crowds of deer have emerged from the woods to the sound of a horn in an annual winter event in Japan’s ancient capital Nara. (NHK)

30 Nov

The Nara Hotel offers royal-class hospitality, but right now you won’t have to pay a king’s ransom to experience it. (

2 Oct

Mention the town of Nara to many people in Japan, and the first thing they’ll think of isn’t one of the city’s historical temples or shrines, nor the city’s former status as the capital of all Japan. Nope, for a lot of people, the next word that springs to mind after they hear “Nara” is “deer.” (

31 Aug

Japanese low-cost carrier Peach Aviation will start suspending flights to South Korea in October, due to a drop in bookings. It’s the first airline to do so since relations between the two countries began deteriorating. (NHK)

10 Aug

Although Nara has become a favorite of international tourists in recent years, the city, which served as the nation’s ancient capital from 710 to 784, has historically been a bit off the beaten path. (Japan Times)

30 Jul

The deer population in Nara Park, a popular western Japan tourist attraction, has increased for the third straight year to a record 1,388 animals, a local organization said Monday, the highest number since record-keeping began in the 1950s.
(Japan Today)

23 Jun

Foreign tourist spending in rural parts of Japan is surging faster than it is nationwide. (Nikkei)

31 May

It’s the peak season for deer giving birth in Nara Park, a popular tourist site in Japan’s ancient capital. A tweet warning visitors of the dangers of touching baby deer has gone viral.

26 May

Temperatures rose across Japan on Saturday to highs usually not seen until the height of summer, causing hundreds of people to be taken to hospitals and prompting the weather agency to issue heatstroke warnings. (Japan Today)

29 Mar

Japan’s oldest penitentiary will reopen as an upscale hotel run by Hoshino Resorts in 2021. (Nikkei)

7 Feb

Nara Park in Nara Prefecture is famous for its 1,000-plus-strong shika (native deer) population. These deer, considered to be messengers of the gods, are a national treasure and a protected species within the city’s limits, due to their sacred connection to Nara’s Kasuga Taisha Shrine. (

28 Oct

Thousands of candles were lit on Saturday in Australia’s national capital to celebrate 25 years of sister city ties between Canberra and Japan’s ancient capital of Nara. (Kyodo)

27 Aug

It’s getting ever more crowded in the ancient capital of Nara as record numbers of two-legged visitors encounter record numbers of four-legged residents, creating concerns about the health and safety of both groups. (Japan Times)

17 May

An online video of more than 30 wild deer running through a residential area in Nara city, western Japan, has gone viral.

10 May

Tourists are shocked to see usually ravenous deer turn down their favourite treats. (

12 Apr

Japan will charge a departure tax of 1,000 yen (.37) per person beginning next year, with plans to use the anticipated 40 billion yen raised annually to bolster tourism.

5 Apr

An art installation featuring a telephone booth filled with water and dozens of goldfish will be removed from in front of a coffee shop in Nara Prefecture after an accusation of plagiarism, the local body managing the property said Wednesday. (Japan Times)

3 Apr

Overseas visitors to the ancient Japanese capital of Nara will now see warning signs in English and Chinese explaining how to interact safely with the city’s wild deer. (NHK)

18 Mar

Workers have replaced a lightning-damaged shachihoko roof ornament on a castle in Inuyama City, central Japan. (NHK)

9 Feb

Famed wild deer in the city of Nara appear to be growing increasingly frustrated with tourists who make them wait to munch on crackers while trying to frame the perfect photo. (Japan Times)

9 Nov

This is how my first-ever day in Japan went. Arrive at Tokyo’s Narita airport, sushi for lunch in the city, bullet train (shinkansen) to Kyoto, train to Yamazaki. (

29 May

An ancient ball game known as “kemari” was staged at a major shrine in Nara. The event held at Kasugataisha shrine is named “Manyo-kemari”. (NHK)