Do you have vacation plans that take you to the Kansai region of Japan? The Japanese city of Nara, which has roughly 365,000 people and is located less than an hour away by public transportation from the big towns of Kyoto and Osaka, is one that you simply cannot afford to miss.
The city has a rich cultural and historical legacy because of the dozens of museums, shrines, and temples that can be found inside its boundaries. This place proves that the capital of the eponymous prefecture. Which is widely regarded as the cradle of Japanese civilization, does not lack in must-sees in any way, shape, or form. If you are a history buff and looking to go there soon. Without thinking much, start planning, book all nippon airways reservations in any class and save up to 60% off on every flight till the last minute. To help you out, below we’ve listed some of the top things to do in Nara that you shouldn’t miss.
Nara Park or Nara Koen
It is unimaginable to go to Nara and not take in this magnificent and enormous park that was established in 1880 and spans over 600 hectares. Not only to unearth the treasures that are buried there (the Tôdai-ji and Kasuga-taisha temples, Shinto shrines, the Nara National Museum, ponds, and a traditional tea house…) but also to interact with some of the 1200 Sika deer that call this area home. These sika deer, who were once thought to be messengers of the gods and were therefore sacred animals, have recently been declared national treasures.
Present-day Naramachi is home to nearly one hundred businesses (traditional or souvenir), restaurants, cafes, and even museums, such as the Naramachi mechanical toy museum or the Naramachi museum. Do not be shy about making a pit stop in front of the Gango-ji temple, which can be found in the middle of the Naramachi neighborhood. One of the earliest temples in the nation, Gango-ji is claimed to have been relocated to its current location in Nara in the year 718 and is now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
During the Nara period, there was a significant amount of Chinese influence felt not only in the realms of architecture, politics, and the arts but also in the realm of religion. Buddhism arrived in Japan from China as early as the 5th century but underwent significant development throughout the Nara period (8th century).
This magnificent temple, which lies on the boundaries of the park and is close to the Kintetsu station, is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites; it is impossible to miss it. You will appreciate, among other things, its multiple pavilions, its 5-story pagoda that is reflected in the Sarusawa-like pond on sunny days, and its museum of national treasures (Kokuhôkan), which houses both statues and paintings or books. The pagoda and the pagoda’s reflection in the pond can be seen when the sun is shining.
Todai-Ji Temple (Great Eastern Temple)
This significant temple was built in the middle of the eighth century, and a considerable portion of its popularity may be attributed to the Daibutsu-den, which is the largest wooden structure in the world and is home to a magnificent bronze statue of a seated Buddha. Tôdai-ji may have been torn down and rebuilt multiple times since it was first constructed, but it hasn’t lost any of its majesties.
Kasuga Taisha Shrine
After exploring the city’s Buddhist temples, you can continue your trip to Nara by going inside the Kasuga Taisha Shinto shrine, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. To go to this temple in the middle of the forest that has many hanging lights, all you have to do is follow the stone lanterns that are placed around the area.
Nishinokyo and the areas immediately surrounding it
Now you should head west, away from the commotion that can be found in the city’s center and east side. Toshodai-ji and Yakushi-ji are two Buddhist temples that date back to the eighth century and can be found in close proximity to Nishinokyo. This neighborhood is visited by significantly fewer tourists than the area around Nara Park.
The National Museum of Nara
There is no substitute for putting a trip to a museum on your itinerary of things to do in Nara if you want to learn about the city’s history and appreciate the work of local artisans. If only one could be visited, it would have to be the Nara National Museum because it is extremely well-stocked and provides explanations in English. If you could only choose one, make it this one. The Buddhist statues, stage masks, pieces of art, and even hundreds of texts that are on display in this museum are part of the institution’s very attractive permanent collections.
It is feasible to tour the majority of the city on foot, which is another significant benefit. The ideal approach is to enjoy the surreal atmosphere of Nara while alternating between museums, temples, and parks without missing a beat. So, what are you waiting for? Gather your friends and family and plan a trip to Japan with AirlinesMap and visit these awesome places for a memorable and thrilling vacation. Happy Vacations..!