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. …WikiTravel
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, . 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
STREET FOOD! We’re back for more in one of Japan’s most traditional cities, Nara.
What was once Japan’s capitol is now a place loaded with delicious street food for humans and deer alike. So, what’s Nara got to offer? I hope you’re hungry! (ONLY in JAPAN )
The 68th Annual Exhibition of Shoso-in Treasures, introducing the gorgeous Tenpyo culture that thrived in the eighth century, opened at the Nara National Museum in Nara on Saturday. (the-japan-news.com)
Japan as a whole may be attracting record numbers of foreign tourists, but a report by McKinsey & Co. indicates that the four major historical regions of Nara, Kamakura, Nikko and Ise Shrine are almost unknown among Western tourists. (Japan Times)
Ancient Japan may have been far more cosmopolitan than previously thought, archaeologists said Wednesday, pointing to fresh evidence of a Persian official working in the former capital of Nara more than 1,000 years ago. (Japan Times)
The age-old road leading to Kiyomizu Temple had turned into a river of people. Accents and languages from across the world filled the shop-lined slope, as couples in rented kimono took photos with selfie sticks and amateur photographers tried to get a shot devoid of the crowds – a nearly impossible feat. (Japan Times)
The operator of Universal Studios Japan said Monday that the 4,980 yen admission fee will be waived for one child when accompanied by a fee-paying adult between mid-July and early September. (Japan Today)
UNESCO has added the Kuchinoerabu Island in southwestern Japan to its list of biosphere reserves, known as UNESCO Eco Parks in the country, the Japanese National Commission for UNESCO said Sunday. (Jiji Press)
A smart train pass only available for foreign tourists will allow short-stay visitors in the Kansai region to use services by various operators, and entitle them to special deals at tourist attractions and shopping facilities. (Asahi)
The Great Buddha of Nara, a 15-meter-high statue listed among Japan’s national treasures, has only 492 spiraling curls of hair on its bronze head, not the 966 locks described in ancient documents, new research indicates. (Japan Times)
A stone wall of Koriyama Castle in Yamatokoriyama, Nara Prefecture, that was built in the 16th century, will be open to the public on Nov. 14 and 15, offering a rare glimpse of the inner structure of a castle wall, according to city officials. (Japan Times)