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South of Kyoto is Nara, which in 2010 celebrated its 1300 year anniversary as Japan’s ancient capital. The extensive complex of temples and palace buildings at the core of the town are set in a beautiful park where deer graze and that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They include Todai-ji, a temple with the world's largest wooden building – the Daibutsu-den – housing a 49-foot-tall bronze Buddha dating back to 752. Many bronze lanterns surround the grand shrine Kasuga Taisha, which are lit up twice a year for the Mantoro (10,000 lantern) festival. Kofuku-ji has an outstanding collection of Buddhist statuary in its Tokon-do ...

South of Kyoto is Nara, which in 2010 celebrated its 1300 year anniversary as Japan’s ancient capital. The extensive complex of temples and palace buildings at the core of the town are set in a beautiful park where deer graze and that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They include Todai-ji, a temple with the world's largest wooden building – the Daibutsu-den – housing a 49-foot-tall bronze Buddha dating back to 752. Many bronze lanterns surround the grand shrine Kasuga Taisha, which are lit up twice a year for the Mantoro (10,000 lantern) festival. Kofuku-ji has an outstanding collection of Buddhist statuary in its Tokon-do hall. A modern attraction is excellent Nara City Museum of Photography while the shopping district of Nara-machi has many traditional stores worth browsing. While in town you should sample the local style of sushi rice wrapped in persimmon leaves. Southwest of the city center is Horyu-ji, another World Heritage Site; dating back to 607 this is Japan’s oldest Buddhist temple showing how the religion was adapted into local culture from China and Korea. The star attractions here are its five story pagoda and golden hall Kon-do. While out this way also make time to see a couple more historic temples: Yakushi-ji and Toshodai-ji.

Simon Richmond
About the Expert

Simon Richmond has written Rough Guides to Malaysia and Japan; Lonely Planet guides to India and Russia; and adventure travel guides for Frommer's on Australia, India, South America, and Southeast Asia.

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Simon Richmond for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Nara is the capital city of Nara Prefecture in the Kansai region of central Japan. The city occupies the northern part of Nara Prefecture, directly bordering Kyoto Prefecture. Eight temples, shrines and ruins are in in Nara.
  • Language: Japanese
  • Currency: Yen
  • Research: Historic Monuments of Nara | Wikitravel | Nara | Nara Prefecture
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    From March to May and late September to November