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


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)

27 May

A former juvenile prison in the city of Nara in western Japan, built in 1908 and designated as an important cultural asset, will be converted into a hotel, the Justice Ministry said Friday. (Jiji)

25 Mar

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 )

23 Feb

Municipalities that have been protecting deer populations as a tourism resource or natural asset are now increasingly struggling with how to manage overpopulation of the animals. (

1 Dec

In Japan’s ancient capital Nara, some 100 deer emerged from the woods to the sound of a horn in an annual winter event. (NHK)

22 Nov

Cultural assets at a well-known Buddhist temple in the ancient capital of Nara, western Japan, have been tainted with an unidentified liquid. (NHK)

23 Oct

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. (

15 Oct

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)

6 Oct

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)

22 Aug

When staying at this century-old correctional facility, you might hope they lock you up and throw away the key. (

18 Jul

Deer have been summoned from the woods in a ceremony at a park in Japan’s ancient capital of Nara. (NHK)

17 Jul

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)

12 Jul

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)

23 Jun

A common sight at summer festivals is people crouched over pools trying in vain to catch goldfish with a paper scoop. (Japan Times)

20 Mar

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)

24 Feb

The city of Nara, the ancient capital of Japan, said Tuesday it has earmarked funds to attract lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travelers from home and abroad. (Japan Times)

22 Jan

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)

4 Dec

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)

6 Nov

Minoru Tanaka smiled as he watched a crowd of men join forces to lift three massive “taikodai” (drum-carrying floats) at the Sumisaka Jinja shrine here during an autumn festival. (Asahi)

4 Nov

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)

3 Nov

ASUKA, Nara Prefecture–For the first time, the public can view the golden star map on the ancient Takamatsuzuka burial mound’s ceiling at an exhibition that runs through Nov. 8. (Asahi)

20 Jul

Protected deer that live in Japan’s ancient capital Nara were summoned out of the woods on Sunday in a ritual ceremony. (NHK)