Nara Park

The spacious Nara Park is where you will find several of Nara’s most well known temples and shrines, as well as the 1,000 or so semi-domesticated deer that are what most people tend to associate Nara with these days. The park, today an officially designated “Place of Scenic Beauty”, was established in the 1300s making it one of the oldest parks in the entire country. Nara Park is located about 5 minutes on foot from Kintetsu Nara Station and 15 minutes from JR Nara Station. Nara Park is full of things to see and do, here are a few spots that you definitely shouldn’t miss!

Todai-ji

A massive Buddhist temple located in Nara Park. The highlight is the Great Buddha Hall, or Daibutsuden, a National Treasure and UNESCO World Heritage Site that houses several enormous Buddha statues. The temple date back to the 8th century, and according to records held by Todai-ji, a total of 2.6 million people was involved in its construction in one way or another, with 350,000 of these working directly on the Buddha statues. The current structure was built in 1709, and was the world’s largest wooden building until 1998.

Todai-ji
Nigatsu-do

Nigatsu-do

This hillside temple is technically also a part of the vast Todai-ji complex. To get here, one has to climb up a very atmospheric set of cobblestone stairs. Once you’ve reached the balcony at the top, you will be treated to a great view of the vast Nara park, with the rest of the city in the distance. In the beginning of March, a ceremony where big torches are carried up to the balcony is held. This ceremony dates back several hundred years. Back in 1667, an accident occured during the ceremony, and the entire structure was burnt to the ground. The present building was finished in 1669, and is a designated National Treasure.

Nigatsu-do
Kasuga Taisha

Kasuga Taisha

The most well known Shinto shrine in Nara is located on the forest side of Nara Park. It dates back to the time when Nara was the capital of Japan. Both the shrine and the primeval forest surrounding it are UNESCO world heritage sites. To get here, you have to walk along a path famous for the hundreds of stone lanterns on each side.

Kasuga Taisha
Wakakusayama

Wakakusayama

This 342 metre high “mountain” is located in the back of Nara Park. Despite the modest height, it provides a good view of the city. Getting from top to bottom takes around 45 minutes. Wakakusayama is a popular spot during the cherry blossom season, as one side of the mountain has a long line of cherry blossom trees. In January every year, the Wakakusa Yamayaki festival takes place, when the old grass from last year is burnt during a spectacular event that also involves plenty of fireworks.

Wakakusayama
Nara National Museum

Nara National Museum

The most prominent museum in Nara is well regarded for its massive collection of Buddhist art. Many of the sculptures and images on display belong to the temples and shrines in Nara. The museum was built in 1894 but has since been expanded with several additional wings and separate buildings. The museum is open from 9:30am to 5:00pm from Tuesday to Thursday, open until 8:00pm on Friday and Saturday, and is closed on Mondays. Admission is 520 yen.

Facility Name
Nara Park
Address
Nara Pref. Narashi Zoushichou · Kasugano Town, Noborioji Town, Takahata-machi other
Phone
0742220375
Introduction
Nara Park is located directly next to the famous temples and shrine of Todaiji Temple, Kasuga Taisha Shrine, and Kofukuji Temple, as well as the Nara National Museum. The park is inhabited by sika deer, designated as a Natural Monument, and visitors can observe these wild animals up close. Throughout the year important buildings in the park are lit up at night, which engenders a magical atmosphere very different to that of the daytime.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Nigatsu-do
Address
Nara Pref. Narashi Zoushichou 406-1 in the Todaiji Temple
Phone
0742225511
Hours
Open 24 hours visitable
Introduction
This is a Buddhist temple within the Tōdai-ji grounds in Nara City, and has been designated as a Japanese National Treasure. The famous event of “Omizutori (lit. Taking water) (Shuni-e lit. Second-Month Service)” is traditionally held here in early Spring. At present, the event is held in March of the lunar calendar but formerly it was held in February, due to Japan’s old lunisolar calendar—therefore it is the origin of the name, Nigatsu-do (lit. second month hall). The temple has two eleven faced Kannon Goddess of Mercy statues enshrined as principal objects of worship although no one can see them as they are unconditionally Buddhist images withheld from public view.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Kasuga Taisha Shrine
Address
Nara Pref. Narashi Kasuganochou 160
Phone
0742227788
Hours
[Apr.-Sep.]6:00-18:00
[Oct.-Mar.]6:30-17:00
Fees
[Admission fee to worship]
[main shrine special worship] firstfruits fee 500 yen
[national treasure hall] yen General500, university students/High School Students300 yen, Junior High School Students/Elementary School Students200 yen
[Man'yo Botanical Gardens] Adults500 yen, Children250 Circle
Parking Lot
Available
Introduction
This is a Shinto shrine located in Nara City. Kasuga Taisha Shrine is the grand head shrine of approximately 1,000 Kasuga shrines nationwide. The origins to the shrine lie in the early days of the Nara period, when Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto from Kashima-jingu Shrine was enshrined at Mt. Mikasa. The main shrine of the Kasuga structure which is a National Treasure has four buildings lined up, and in addition to the majestic and splendid south Gate and middle gate, there are many things such as fine and industrial art objects which have been designated as Important Cultural Properties. The Bantoro Festival (Lantern Festival) event is held on the day of Setsubun (Bean throwing night) and on the 14th and 15th of August when around 3,000 stone lanterns and hanging lanterns are lit with fire, and many worshipers come to look at this magical sight.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Mt. Wakakusayama (Mt. Mikasa)
Address
Nara Pref. Narashi Kasuganochou Little Women
Fees
Admission fee Adults (Junior High School Students and above) 150 yen, Children (3 years old and over) 80 yen
Introduction
This is a mountain with an elevation of 342 meters located at the eastern tip of Nara Park. The entire mountain is covered in grass and since it has three small hills that look like conical hats, it is also called Mt. Mikasa (three-hat mountain). Visitors can see deer scattered around the mountain and the mountain makes for a beautiful sight in all four seasons including cherry trees in the spring and changing leaves in the autumn. Every year on the fourth Saturday in January the mountain is set on fire, and a launch of fireworks is used as a sign that the entire mountain is ablaze. This is one of Nara’s large events when there is syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism between Kasuga Taisha Shrine, Todaiji Temple, and Kofukuji Temple so as to pray for the peace and comfort of ancestors, Nara’s disaster prevention, and world peace as well as to announce the coming of spring.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Nara National Museum
Address
Nara Pref. Narashi Noboriojichou 50
Phone
05055428600
Hours
9:30-17:00 (Admission is 30 minutes the closing time.)
[Friday Saturday] Special exhibition only/9:30-20:00
Closed
Monday (The next day in case of public holiday), 1/1
Fees
[Admission fee to view] General 520 yen, college student 260 yen ※ Special exhibition is an extra charge
Parking Lot
No ※ Please use the parking lot in the surrounding area.
Credit Card
Yes
Introduction
This is a museum which opened in Nara City in 1895. The “Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall (in the main building)” which was designed by the court architect, Katayama Tokuma is a Western-style architectural structure from the Meiji period and has been designated as an Important Cultural Property. There are four exhibition halls in the museum, with the museum’s collection focusing on Japanese Buddhist art from the Asuka period up until the Kamakura period. In addition, a great number of National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties are among the artifacts held and exhibited at the museum. The museum is famous for opening an exhibition of “Shosoin-ten” (Exhibition of Shosoin Treasures) in Autumn every year.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

PLACES IN THIS ARTICLE

  • Nara National Museum image

    Nara National Museum

    Museum/Science museum
    Nara Pref. Narashi Noboriojichou 50
  • Great Buddha Hall  image

    Great Buddha Hall

    Temple (Kannon/Fudo Myoo)
    Nara Pref. Narashi Zoushichou 406-1 in the Todaiji Temple
  • Nigatsu-do  image

    Nigatsu-do

    Temple (Kannon/Fudo Myoo)
    Nara Pref. Narashi Zoushichou 406-1 in the Todaiji Temple
  • Kasuga Taisha Shrine image

    Kasuga Taisha Shrine

    Temple (Kannon/Fudo Myoo)
    Nara Pref. Narashi Kasuganochou 160
  • Nara Park image

    Nara Park

    Park
    Nara Pref. Narashi Zoushichou · Kasugano Town, Noborioji Town, Takahata-machi other
  • Mt. Wakakusayama (Mt. Mikasa) image

    Mt. Wakakusayama (Mt. Mikasa)

    Mountain
    Nara Pref. Narashi Kasuganochou Little Women
cntlog