Japan: 10 Best Places You NEED to Visit in Nara

Nara was the first permanent capital city of Japan; it was established in the year 710 at Heijo. During this period of time the city flourished under the influence of Buddhism. This city is one of the most ancient cities of Japan and has the biggest number of buildings designated as National Treasures. Here is a list of best tourist attractions in Nara

1. Nara Park

Nara Park is the biggest park in central Nara. In this park hundreds of deer graze along the large lawns, these deer are considered as the messengers of the gods. Many small streams and ponds make this park beautiful. All the deer of this park are surprisingly tame and friendly toward the visitors.

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2. Todaiji Temple

This temple is one of Japan’s most historically important temples and prime landmark of Nara. In 752 the temple was built as the principal temple of all regional Buddhist temples. The main hall, also known as “Big Buddha Hall” is the world’s largest wooden building. This massive hall houses Japan’s biggest bronze Buddha statues. One of the attractions of this temple is a pillar with a hole in its base that is the same size as the Buddha statues nostril.

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Tōdai-ji Temple, Nara

3. Horyuji Temple

Horyuji Temple is the Japans oldest temples and holds the world’s oldest surviving wooden structures. This temple divided into two main precincts, the Western Precinct and the Eastern Precinct. In Western Precinct there are the world’s oldest surviving wooden structures, it includes “the central gate”, “the main hall” and a “five-story pagoda”.

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4. Nara National Museum

This magnificent museum was established in 1889, the museum preserves its original building. It is an art museum which primarily showcases Japanese Buddhist art. The museum contains Buddhist statues, paintings, scrolls and historic ceremonial objects. The museum is well-known for its collection and preservation of cultural properties, old Buddhism works of art and archaeological relics.

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Nara National Museum

5. Heijo Palace

During 710 to 794 the Heijo Palace was the royal palace of Nara. The palace spread over one square kilometer area with emperor’s residence and government offices. For its archeological and cultural importance, the palace site is designated as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Former Audience Hall also known as Daigokuden is the largest building on the palace grounds. It was rebuilt and opened to the public in April 2010.

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6. Isuien Garden

Isuien Garden is a beautiful garden in Nara and it also houses an incredible but small Neiraku Art Museum. It is the only walking garden in the city. The garden borrows the scenery from different attractions, for example it uses Todaiji Temple’s Nandaimon Gate and has Mount Wakakusa as backdrop.

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Isuien Garden

7. Manyo Botanical Garden

The Manyo Botanical Garden is a lovely garden that houses diverse varieties of flowering plants. Also known as Kasuga Taisha Garden, it has beautiful seasonal flowers such as Japanese Andromeda, wisteria, weeping cherry blossom and Azalea etc. The garden is located just next to Kasuga Taisha Shrine.

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Manyo Botanical Garden, Nara

8. Kasuga-taisha Shrine

Kasuga-taisha Shrine was made in eighth century but since then it has been rebuilt various times. The shrine belongs to Fujiwara family. It has loads of lanterns. The shrine is located at very end of Nara Park. It has four buildings and they are listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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9. Kofun tombs

These are the keyhole shaped tumuli which are surrounded by ancient graves. But it is the fact that visitors are not allowed to go inside but they can enjoy the outside views that are also worth every effort of being there. It is believed that these tombs have the bodies of ancient emperors that ruled Japan.

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10. Mount Yoshino

Mount Yoshino is situated in central Nara prefecture and it is a spectacular mountain which is famous as the best cherry blossom viewing point in Nara. You get to enjoy the serenity in between thousands of cherry blossoms on a mountain. It was also designated as the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yoshino Mikumari Shrine, Kimpu Shrine, and Kimpusen-ji are situated near Mount Yoshino.

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The city Nara was grandeur in its time; it was a world of silks, Chinese scripts and Buddhist culture. Nara was built by the emperor Shomu, and this city played an important role in the spread of Buddhism in Japan along with best tourism points. Hope you enjoyed reading this post!

Featured Image Courtesy: Joe deSousa

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