Destinations

NARA

Around Nara-koen Park
After a five-minute walk east from Kintetsu Nara Station, you will arrive at Nara-koen Park. Feeding shika-senbei, or rice crackers for deer, to the cute deer is fun.
Passing through the park, you will see Todai-ji Temple. It was built in the mid Nara period (710-794), and has always been one of the major temples in Japan. From Nigatsu-do Hall, you can get a sweeping view of the town of Nara. Kaidan-in Hall houses national treasure Shitenno-zo (Four Heavenly Kings statue).

A 10-minute walk from Nigatsu-do through the approach lined by trees will bring you to Kasuga Taisha Shrine. It was built during the Nara period. Its vermillion-lacquered buildings are beautiful and the main shrine and treasure house which houses many national treasures are attractive. Japanese wisteria in the garden is at its best in early May. Lanterns in the precincts are lit in the evening during the period of time of the Mantoro Festival in February and August, and it lures and fascinates visitors with the fantastic atmosphere.
A retro Western-style building just to the west of the shrine is the main building of Nara National Museum. It mainly features Buddhist art and there is no other museum of this type in Japan. The Buddhist sculptures in the main building are especially a must-see.

Kofuku-ji Temple is well-known for having the tallest five-story pagoda in Nara. After first construction in 730, this pagoda burned down five times, and the current pagoda was rebuilt in 1426. Among many temple treasures in the Kokuho-kan (Treasure Hall), the Ashura statue is a must see. Its melancholy face has long fascinated visitors.

Naramachi
The area from Kintetsu Nara Station to JR Nara Station is full of unique shops and is a good place for eating and shopping. When you walk southward about 15 minutes from Kintetsu Nara Station thorough the shopping mall, you will arrive at Naramachi. This area around World Heritage Gango-ji Temple was a merchant district that prospered along with the temple. Common people's houses that were built from the 19th to 20th centuries still remain, surrounded by narrow allays, which creates a pleasing nostalgic atmosphere.

Gengo-ji Temple is an old temple. Its origin is the Hoko-ji Temple that was one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Asuka village in Nara Prefecture and was moved to this location in 718.
Imanishi-ke Shoin is a typical shoin-style building built in the Muromachi period (1336-1573) and its Japanese-style garden is also splendid.
Naramachi Koshi no Ie is a replica of a traditional house of Naramachi. You can see the structure of the house and how commoners lived in olden days. It has a wonderful lattice structure through which you can well see outside from inside of the house, but you can't well see inside from outside.

Nishinokyo
Yakushi-ji Temple is located five minutes on foot from Nishinokyo Station. It was built in 680 by the command of Emperor Tenmu. At the back of the vermillion-lacquered corridor, To-to and Sai-to pagodas stand. To-to (East Pagoda) is a national treasure which has been preserved for more than 1,300 years without damage, even though there were several fires in the temple compound. Sai-to (West Pagoda) was burned down in the 16th century, the Warring Sates period, and rebuilt only in 1981. Comparing the old To-to and beautifully vermillion-lacquered Sai-to is interesting.
Toshodai-ji Temple to the north of Yakushi-ji was built during the Heian period (794-1192) by Ganjin, a Chinese Buddhist priest who came to Japan, as a school for priests to study religious precepts.
Both Yakushi-ji and Toshodai-ji are designated World Heritage sites.

Imai Town
Traditional streets of the Edo period remain in Imai town, Kashihara City. Houses with plaster walls and lattice doors create a quiet atmosphere. Head for Hanairaka, the transportation hub of the town, from Kintetsu Yaginishiguchi Station. You can learn about the history of the town and get a map there. Imanishi Family House was built by the family that played a leading role in governing the town. This interesting house is similar to a castle.
The Toyota Family House is the house of a lumber dealer. This is a luxurious house using expensive materials such as a zelkova central pillar and pine beams. Shonen-ji Temple is a temple of the Jodo-shinshu sect of Buddhism and the center of Imai, a fortified, temple-centered town. The Kawai Family House is the house of the family that ran a brewery, still in operation today. Placing a parlor on the second floor is a characteristic of this type of merchant’s house.

Nara, the center of ancient Japan, is blessed with long history and traditional culture, and beautiful natural surroundings. Touring in Nara is sure to be a highpoint of travel in Japan.

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