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1. About Nara



Nara Prefecture is in the Central part of the Kinki District, and is an Inland Region. In the Southern part of the region, The Yoshino River flows from east to west. The North side of the river is the Nara basin , and the South side is Yoshino Mountainous region.

The Nara basin covers an area of 300 sq. km. or about 10 percent of the prefecture, extending 10 km. from East to West and 30 km. from South to North. On the eastern part of the basin, the Yamato highland and Uda mountainous region lie.

The Southern part is dotted with the Yamato Sanzan or three mountains of Unebi-yama, Miminashi-yama and Amano Kagu-yama. The Western part is partitioned off from the Osaka plain by Mount Ikoma and Mount Kongo, and the Northern part from a low hill called Narayama. This Low hill was the traffic road to the Yamashiro basin of Kyoto over the Utahime Pass and Narazaka Pass. Going up the the Kizu river , which runs out on the Yamashiro basin, leads to the Iga District of Ise. The Iga district, which is between Yamato and the Ise Provinces, played the part of passage belt to link the two provinces since ancient times.


The climmate of the Nara Basin is of the Inland type, the temperature here varies greatly with the seasons, but it is generally mild. Annual rainfall is only 1400 mm and pluvial from June to September. Because the Basin has a long drought, there are many irrigation reservoirs. The average temperature is 14°C to 15°C,  28 °C in August,  4°C in January and the annual differential is 24°C to 25°C. While the Southern area has the mountainous climate of the Pacific side of Japan, and is an area of high rain fall. The annual rain fall there is 2500 mm to 3000 mm and the precipitation at the Odai-Gahara plain register about 4700 mm, The snow lay 1 meter deep in some places, with an average depth only 3 cm.


Places of Interest

1.  Nara Park (奈良公園)(10-minute-walk from Kintetsu Nara Station)

Nara Park covers a space of about 5.25 square km, extending 4 km from East to West, 2 km from South to North. This vast park is finely wooded with various kinds of trees, including huge Japanese Cedars, Oaks and Wisterias. Many places of interest such as Todaiji Temple,  Kofukuji Temple , Kasuga Taisha Shrine, Wakakusa and Mikasa hills are in the park. Thus in the restful atmosphere the natural beauty and classical structures are forming a beautiful contrast. In addition to this more than 1,000 tame deer give pleasure to the tourist by roaming in the park. So the park is popularly known among foreigners as Deer Park.

Why does Nara Park  have so many deer?

 According to the legend, when the Fujiwara family established  Kasuga Shrine as their tutelary shrine they hailed the deity, Takemikazuchi-no-Mikoto from the Kashima Jingu Shrine in Ibaragi Prefecture near Tokyo. The Deity came to Nara on a white deer back.  So the deer are protected as the deity's messenge.


Unbelievable Japanese Deer

Many people greeted the deer with  bowing  for having carried the diety.  Soon the deer  bowed  in return. Legend tell us that all Nara deer are descendants of that one white deer and many today continue to bow to visitors.






 Sarusawa Pond    (猿沢の池)                                                                 

The pond of the Kofukuji Temple, the people in those days used to set free the fish that they bought from fishmongers, with a prayer that their deed of charity would assure a happy future for their departed relatives.







  Kofukuji Temple (興福寺)

This temple is the headquarter of the Hosso Sect Buddhism. It was founded in 669 by Kagami -no-Okimi, the consort of Kamatari, the founder of Fujiwara family.

The five-storied pagoda is a symbol of the Deer park. This is 50.9m in height, last rebuilt in1426 after being damaged in a succession of civil wars.








 Nara National Museum (奈良国立博物館)

  The museum consists of two buildings, namely, The Main West Gallery and the new building East Gallery. Both are connected by an   

underpass. The museum exhibits the history and techniques of Buddhist sculpture and excavated ancient Buddhist relics, such as the plan of temples, roof-tiles of each period.

  It is the second oldest museum in Japan.

   The Main West Galerry opened in 1895. 




  Todaiji Temple  (東大寺)

This temple is the headquarters of the Kegon (Avatamsaka) sect of Buddhism. In 745 emperor Shomu (reigned 724 - 749) ordered to build the grand hall of Todaiji to enshrine the Great Buddha. It was completed in 752. You will be surprised when you see the Daibutsu (Great Buddha), the main object of worship of this hall, which is the biggest wooden structure in the world.






 Nara Prefectural New Public Hall (奈良県新公会堂)

This Hall was constructed in 1987 in commemoration of the 100 the establishment of Nara Prefecture.

It is called Big Roof  in 1987 in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Nara Prefecture.

The Hall has an impressive Noh theatre, ehich can be converted into a multi-purpose auditorium, conference

rooms , reception hall and a spacious beautiful garden.

Closed : Monday (If Monday is a national holiday, then Tuesday)

                From  Dec  28th  to  Jan  4 th





Kasuga Taisha Shrine (春日大社)

The shrine was built by Fuhito Fujiwara (in 710), the son of Kamatari, the first generation leader of the powerful Fujiwara family. Approx 1000 these hanging lanterns and 2000 stone lanterns along the approach to this shrine are lit creating a solemn atomosphere on the days of seasonal division in February and 14th and 15th of August.







   Isuien Garden (依水園)


According to an old record of temples of Nara, the front yard was once a part of the Manishuin Gankoji Temple. In 1673 it fell into Kiyosumi's hand, who was an influential bleacher in Nara. He modified the layout of the garden, erecting a thatch-roofed house. At the opening ceremony the building was named "The Sanshu-Tei" by Mokuan Zenshi, a distinguished priest of the Obaku Sect of Buddhism.







  Yoshikien Garden     Foreign tourists will not have to pay the entrance fee

This is said the site of a residence of the high priests of Kofukuji Temple. The garden is consisted of 3 different types of gardens. "Pond Garden" "Moss Garden" and "Tea Ceremonial Flower Garden". There is Tea House in the moss garden. Adopting the natural ups, downs and curves of the ground. The "Pond garden" was designed Edo era (about 200 years ago)  so as to become one with the building. The garden is carpeted with cider moss and is the quiet setting with a one-story wooden the house with thached roof. The tea ceremonial flower garden is full of flowers that said the stage fo tea ceremony. It is loved by people for its simple but pleasent atmosphere.









   Okumura Commemorative Museum(奥村記念館)

The muse




um opened to commemorative the centenary of Okumura Corporation's founding in 2007. The building features an exterior disign that blends into the landscape of Nara Park while the inside is open to the public
free of charge with a space for visitors to relax in and an exhibition area to introduce the 100 year company history.  

Seismic Isolation System (Actual Object)

   You can get a close look at the laminated rubber bearings and elastic slide bearings.

Earthquake & Seismic Isolation Experience Device

  The same tremors in a seismically isolated building can be experienced.




Ukimi-do  Pavilion

 This hexagonal hall is built on the Sagiike Pond in Nara Park.

Open every day. Admission is free. 







Naramachi 、Nara Town (奈良町)
#7   of 16 most visited
sights in Nara
jump to:   access  -  hotels  -  ratings  -  tours  -  links

Naramachi (奈良町, literally "Nara Town") is the former merchant district of Nara, where several traditional residential buildings and warehouses have been preserved. Boutiques, shops, cafes, restaurants and a few museums now line the district's narrow lanes.

Many of the buildings in the Naramachi district were machiya or  long, narrow "townhouses" that served both as the shops and the living quarters of the local merchants. The machiya's front was kept narrow in order to save on taxes, which used to be calculated on a property's street access rather than its total area. A few of the preserved machiya are open to the public.

Before the 15th century, the spacious grounds of Gangoji Temple occupied the area that is Naramachi today. Gangoji was one of Japan's most important temples during the Nara Period and has been dedicated a Unesco World Heritage Site. Only a couple of buildings of the temple remain today.

Below is a list of Naramachi's main attractions:

Gangoji Temple
Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (entrance until 16:30)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 400 yen
Gangoji Temple was one of Nara's seven great temples along with Todaiji, Yakushiji, Saidaiji, Kofukuji, Horyuji and Daianji. It originated as Asukadera in Asuka and was moved to Nara in 718. Asukadera is considered Japan's oldest temple. Today, Gangoji is only a small fraction of what it used to be.
Koshi-no-Ie Residence (Naramachi Lattice House)
Hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Closed: Mondays (Tueday if Monday is a national holiday) and the day following national holidays (except weekends)
Admission: Free
Koshi-no-Ie Residence is a former merchant home open to the public. It is the best place for a look at one of Nara's traditional machiya townhouses with a shop space in the front of the building and the living quarters in the rear.
Nara Craft Museum (Nara Kogeikan)
Hours: 10:00 to 18:00 (entry until 17:30)
Closed: Mondays (Tue if Mon is a national holiday), the day following national holidays (except weekends), December 26 to January 5, and during exhibition changes
Admission: Free
This museum provides an introduction to the arts and crafts which Nara is famous for, including high quality writing brushes, ink and kogakumen masks among others.
Naramachi Shiryokan
Hours: 10:00 to 16:00 
Open:every day 
Admission: Free
This history museum in central Naramachi displays many artifacts with Japanese explanations. The museum also focuses on the brightly colored red and white hanging monkeys (migawari-zaru) commonly seen in Naramachi doorways. 
Imanishike Shoin Residence
Hours: 10:00 to 14:00 (entry until 13:30)
Closed: Mondays, summer holidays, winter holidays
Admission: 350 yen
Imanishike Shoin Residence, located in the eastern part of Naramachi, is a former residence of an important temple official who worked at Kofukuji Temple. Imanishike has a pleasant garden, a large interior, and a space for enjoying green tea and Japanese sweets.

Any Questions? Ask them in our question forum.

How to get there
Naramachi is located about a 10-15 minute walk to the south of Kintetsu Nara Station. From JR Nara Station, it is about a 20 minute walk to the southeast. Loop bus numbers 5 and 6 serve Kintetsu Nara Station, JR Nara Station and Naramachi.

How to get to and around Nara





2. Saki Area

  Heijo-kyo  Japan's first capital Heijo Palace Site

In 710, Empress-Regnant Gemmei (reigned 661 - 721) founded a permanent court and the seat of administration on the Nothern part of the Basin of Nara after the model of Changan Castle of Tang in China. She called it  "Heijokyo". It continued to be the capital for 74 years, succeeding 7 reigns, until 784. After the capital was moved to Kyoto by Emperor Kammu (781 - 806) the site was left to ruin. Excavation of the site began in 1959. Many remains were found including the pillar holes , ditches, "Tsuji" walls, wells and so on.

The Main Hall of the Former Imperial Audience Hall had been reconstructed as a national project.  



3.Nishi-no-kyo Area 

 These two temples are near Nishi-no-kyo station of kintetsu railway.

   Toshodaiji Temple (唐招提寺)


 This temple was founded in 759 by the Chinese Priest Ganjin (688 - 763).



   Yakushiji Temple (薬師寺)


The construction work of the original temple started at Asuka, the South part of Nara. In 680 at the wishes of Emperor Temmu (reigned 672 - 86) to pray for the recovery of the empress from illness, but the work was succeeded by empress Regnant Jito (reigned 686 - 97) the former empress and completed in the reign of emperor Mommu (697 - 707).








4. Ikaruga Area
  These temples are 20 minutes walk from JR Horyuji Station

  Horyuji Temple (法隆寺)

According to the inscription on the "halo of the Yakushi Nyorai" which is enshrined in the Kondo, the original temple was built in 607 by prince Shotoku (574 - 622) together with his aunt Empress-Regnant Suiko (reigned 592 - 628) in pursuance of the will of his father Emperor Yomei (reigned 583 - 587). However the temple has an record that it was burnt down in 670. It is estimated by the authoritative scholars that the present temple was reconstructed in its original form in the begining of 8th century. In any case, it is the oldest wooden structure existing on earth.



   Chuguji Nunnery (中宮寺)

This nunnery is said to have been originated by Prince Shotoku to pray for the repose of Imperial Princess Hashihito, his mother. The original nunnery stood 500 m to the East of the present site until the Muromachi period and was called the "Ikaruganiji Nunnery". This nunnery belongs to the Shotoku sect of Buddhism.