Spots in Nara Area

  • Kasuga Taisha Shrine
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    4.5
    1751 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Narashi Kasuganochou 160
    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.

    First info upfront - we didnt actually go into the Shrine (paid entry), as we already had a sort of temple / shrine overkill and noticed that even the most significant places didnt give us the joy...

  • Yakushiji Temple
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    4.0
    490 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Narashi Nishinokyouchou 457
    Together with the Kohfukuji Temple, the Yakushiji Temple is the headquarters of the Hosso school of Buddhism. The temple was built in 680 in the then-capital of Fujiwara-kyo by Emperor Tenmu to pray for the recovery of his ill consort, who later succeeded him as Empress Jito. The temple was moved to its current location in 718. Originally, the temple was comprised of a magnificent number of structures connected via galleries, but, excluding the East Pagoda, these were destroyed by fire and war. The colorful main hall, West Pagoda, central gate, galleries, and the largest grand hall inside the grounds have been rebuilt. The East Pagoda, a National Treasure and the temple’s only original structure remaining from when it was first erected, appears at first glance to be a six-tier pagoda but is in fact a three tier-one. (Note: The East Pagoda is scheduled to undergo restoration until June 2020.)

    If you havent visited Kyotos temple districts or want to see temples without the crowds in and around Kyoto, or youd like to see more temples, and youre in Nara overnight, Yakushi-ji and...

  • Omiwa Shrine
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    4.5
    322 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Sakuraishi Miwa 1422
    Omiwa Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in Japan and the site has been sacred ground for some of the earliest religious practices. The Miwa Torii (shrine gate), the gate marking the transition from the profane to the sacred, and the worship hall have been designated as important cultural assets of the country. Although we know from records that the worship hall was founded in the Kamakura period, the shrine as we know it now was rebuilt by Tokugawa Ietsuna, the fourth Tokugawa shogun. The enshrined deity is revered as a guardian deity of human life in the sense of building a nation. People are welcome to join the festivals held here throughout the year. Omiwa Shrine is approximately five minutes on foot from JR Miwa Station.

    We were so happy to visit this beautiful shrine in the early evening with lights lining the stairs up to the main shrine. As it was drizzling the monks immediately ran out to provide a canopy for us...

  • Kashihara Jingu Shrine
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    4.0
    278 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Kashiharashi Kumechou 934
    This shrine is dedicated to Emperor Jimmu and his wife. The shrine was erected by Emperor Meiji in 1890 based on the Nihon Shoki, one of Japan’s oldest history books, which records that the Emperor Jimmu was enthroned at the site. Located at the foot of Mt. Unebi, the hinoki bark thatched, bare-wood main shrine and kagura hall harmonize perfectly with the thick and verdant forest which surround the shrine’s gravel path. The main shrine was a sanctuary in the Kyoto Imperial Palace that was moved here.

    Kashihara Jingu is a large shrine located in an area with other interesting paces, such as the tomb of the first emperor in Japan, Jimmu Tenno. Whether he actually existed or not is unclear, however...

  • Kinpusen-ji Temple Zaoudou
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    4.5
    259 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Yoshinogunyoshinochou Yoshinoyama
    The symbol of Mt. Yoshino and the head temple of the Shugendo syncretic Shinto-Buddhist religion. It is believed that the temple was founded by the mystic En no Gyoja in the latter half of the seventh century. The Zaoudou hall standing proudly on the heights of the Kinpu Mountain Range was erected in 1592 and is the second largest ancient wooden building in Japan after the Hall of the Great Buddha at Todai-ji Temple. Three statues of Zao, a Shinto manifestation of the Buddha, are enshrined in the temple, representing the past, present, and future. Each is seven meters tall and a must-see during your visit.

    There are probably only two feasible ways to get here:either drive up the mountain in a one-line-two-way zig zag road, or take Kintetsu line to Yoshino station then hire a cab. Either way is an...

  • Murouji Temple
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    4.5
    219 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Udashi Murou 78
    A temple of the Omoto school of Shingon Buddhism, unlike sacred Mt. Koya, this temple was open to women, thus resulting in its nickname, the Woman’s Mt. Koya. The temple was erected in the Nara period in prayer for the recovery from illness of Emperor Kammu. The rooves of buildings such as the main hall and nave are shingled and thatched with hinoki bark in place of clay tiles. The temple’s five-tier pagoda, a designated National Treasure, is Japan’s smallest outdoor five tier pagoda. The temple enshrines numerous Buddhist statues designated National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties, such as the standing figure of Gautama Buddha that is the main object of worship as well as a standing image of Maitreya.

    Murou-Ji Temple is indeed a site to be marvelled at. I love how peacefull and how not touristy is the place. The Temple coexist with the forrest. And I could litetally hear how quiet the place is. If...

  • Roadside Station Hari T-R-S
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    3.5
    87 Reviews
    Transportation
    Nara Pref. Narashi Harichou 345
    This is a Roadside Station next to the Hari Interchange in Hari-cho, Nara City on the National Route 25. As well as Italian cuisine and fast food, there are many restaurants, souvenir and local produce shops, a natural hot spring and pool, Hari Onsen Land, and Hari TRS (terrace) Berry Farm, the largest tourist farm in west Japan (reservations required) in the facility.

    The new Nara JR station was well planned for its customers with clear indication signs as well as smooth passenger flow for visitors. The train station was on upper level and was led down to the...

  • Nakatanido
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    4.0
    355 Reviews
    Gourmet / Alcohol
    Nara Pref. Narashi Hashimotochou 29
    This is a yomogi mochi rice cake specialty shop located on Sanjo-dori Street in Hashimoto Town, Nara City. The yomogi mochi is made from carefully selected locally grown produce. Hot rice is pounded swiftly according to traditional methods to make the soft and springy texture of the sweet. The shop is visited by many customers who come to see the skilled combination of the craftsmen turning and pounding the rice first hand.

    I was on my way to the hotel from Nara Park when I saw this shop and a lot of people in front of it. People would buy something and then take pictures of it or in front of the store, so I had to try...

  • Asuka-dera Temple
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    4.5
    185 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Takaichigunasukamura Asuka 682
    Japan’s first fully-fledged Buddhist temple, the Asuka-dera was completed in 596 by through the efforts of the samurai Soga no Umako, who promoted Buddhism in the nation. The temple’s principle object of worship, a bronze seated figure of Gautama Buddha popularly known as the “Asuka Great Buddha,” is Japan’s oldest Buddhist image and a designated Important Cultural Property. The Hana-eshiki Ceremony, which celebrates the birth of Gautama Buddha, is also famous for having first been conducted in Japan here. The temple was once quite large, with a central tower, three-sided main temple building, and encircling galleries, but most of the temple buildings were lost in fire due in the Kamakura period due to lightning strikes. The current main temple building was reconstructed in the Edo period.

    No need for me to emphasize “the oldest Budda statue” part of this temple. Some tips on driving there if you use Google map: This temple is in a small village and near quite large rice fields. While...

  • Gango-ji Temple
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    4.0
    259 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Narashi Chuinchou 11
    A Buddhist temple located in Chuin Town, Nara City. The temple was originally constructed as the Hoko-ji Temple (Asuka-dera Temple), Japan’s oldest Buddhist temple, by Soga no Umako in the end of sixth century. The temple was later moved to its current location and given a new name with the transfer of the capital to ancient Nara. In addition to being registered as part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara World Heritage Site, the temple’s Gokuraku-do hall, Zen meditation room, and five-tier pagoda are all designated National Treasures. Special themed exhibitions of the temple’s collection of artwork and treasures are held each year in spring and autumn in the special exhibition room of the temple’s Horin-kan hall.

    This temple is just south of the old town in Nara. It is very impressive in its quiet way. The museum is quite lovely and full of ancient sculpture. May I suggest Ninety-Nine Postcards from Nara as...

  • Tanzan Jinja
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    4.5
    158 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Sakuraishi Tounomine 319
    This Shinto shrine’s origin dates back to when statesman Fujiwara no Kamatari’s son, Fujiwara no Joe, had his father’s ashes moved here and built a 13-tier pagoda in 678. Prior to the official separation of Buddhism and Shintoism in the country, the shrine was a Buddhist temple called the Tonomine Temple. The pagoda, rebuilt in 1532 and a designated Important Cultural Property, is the only extant 13-tier pagoda in the world. Beyond the shrine stands a mountain said to be the location where Emperor Tenjin and Fujiwara no Kamatari discussed the Taika Reform. The mountain thus came to be called “Tanzan,” or the Mountain of Discussion, hence the shrine’s name. In the spring, a 600-year old usuzumi cherry tree and designated Natural Monument comes in to bloom, and the shrine is thus known as a beautiful site for cherry blossom viewing. In addition, in autumn, visitors can enjoy the shrine’s fall foliage when it is colored by over 3,000 maple trees.

    I cannot understand why the Tanzan Jinja and pagoda are not covered by the Nara coach tours. We first saw the 13 storey pagoda mentioned in a JR magazine, but the Nara tourist office had no...

  • Tamaki-jinja Shrine
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    4.5
    110 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Yoshinoguntotsukawamura Tamaigawa 1
    Tamaki-jinja Shrine is a miraculous shrine near the top of the 1,076 meter Mt. Tamaki at the southern end of the Omine Mountains. Legend says that the shrine was built in 37 B.C. in the era of Emperor Sujin in order to guard against fire at the imperial castle and to ward off evil spirits. The shrine is on the World Heritage Omine Okugake-michi (paths) and has prospered as a spiritual retreat for Buddhist Shugendo followers from Kumano and Omine for a very long time. In the grounds of the shrine are gigantic cedar trees including some cedar trees said to be 3,000 years old, and in 2004 the temple was designated a World Heritage Site under the name Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range.

    Its really a beautiful shrine to feel nature, culture and history. Dont forget to hike up to Tamaishisha. If sky is clear, you can see the ocean from the shrine and the top of Mt. Tamaki.

  • Shinyakushi-ji Temple
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    4.5
    210 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Narashi Takabatakechou 1352
    A Buddhist temple built by Empress Komyo in prayer for the recovery of illness of Emperor Shomu in 747. During the Nara period, the temple was one of the 10 most important in Nara and over 100 priests studied on its vast grounds. In the Heian period, however, the temple’s size was reduced due to lightning strikes and typhoons. The main temple nave looks as it did when first erected and enshrines a seated figure of Bhaisajyaguru, the temple’s main object of worship, as well as standing figures of the Twelve Divine Generals.

    This temple is approximately 1,300 years old and the main hall dates back that far. The grounds are small in comparison to its days of glory, but theres still much to see here. This neighborhood is...

  • Naramachi Koshi no Ie Residence
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    4.5
    200 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Narashi Gangoujichou 44
    A museum which recreates the appearance of a merchant’s house in old Nara-machi, a style of living which existed from the end of the Edo through the Meiji periods. The building is also known as the “Eel Bed”) thanks to its narrow entrance and lengthwise design, which resembles an eel trap. Visitors can experience how life was lived in such houses and learn about the lives of townspeople during this time period.

    Its a free attraction, and fascinating to see how homes were once constructed--the literature was very helpful. We were actually walking between Harushika Brewery and Gango-Ji Temple in Naramachi...

  • Shizuka (Koen Branch)
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    4.0
    168 Reviews
    Gourmet / Alcohol
    Nara Pref. Narashi Noboriojichou 59-11
    A kama-meshi (rice, meat and vegetable dish served in a small pot) specialty restaurant located near Nara Park and the Nara National Museum in Noborioji Town, Nara City, Nara Prefecture know for the constant line outside its door. Each serving of kama-meshi is cooked to order over an open fire. The harmony between the hearty portion of toppings, dashi-steeped rice, and toasty okoge is exquisite. The most popular item on the menu is the Nara seven variety kama-meshi, which has seven toppings, including shrimp, crab, and conger eel. The inside of the restaurant is quiet and spacious; come here to enjoy a meal in between sightseeing.

    After we visited Nara Deer Park and the surrounding temples, our legs were tired and stomach hungry. We stopped by at Shizuka for kamameshi. We were not surprised by the queue in front of the...

  • Okadera Temple
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    4.0
    96 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Takaichigunasukamura Oka 806
    A Shingon Buzan Buddhist temple located in Asuka Village, Takaichi County, Nara Prefecture and the seventh station on the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage. The temple is said to have been founded by the high priest Gien on the site of a hill palace he had received where Prince Kusakabe, son of Emperor Tenmu, once lived. The temple’s official name is the Ryugai-ji Temple. Long worshiped as sacred ground providing protection from evil and harm, the temple is visited by great numbers of worshippers seeking to ensure their safety during unlucky years. The temple has many highlights, including Nyoirin Kannon Zazo (seated figure of Cintamani-cakra, a designated Important Cultural Property and Japan’s oldest earthen image) and a crimson-lacquered Deva gate and. In mid-April, some 3,000 rhododendrons come into bloom on the temple’s grounds; the fall foliage in autumn is also spectacular.

    According to Oka Temples legend, its founder Gaien confronted and defeated a dragon that was making mischief in the 8th century town of Asuka. After its defeat the dragon was confined to a pond...

  • Chugu-ji Temple
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    4.0
    143 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Ikoma-gun Ikarugacho Horyuji Kita 1-1-2
    "This Buddhist temple is affiliated with Prince Shotoku and is also the oldest Buddhist convent in Japan. Today, the temple adjoins the Horyuji's Eastern Precinct, but it is said to have originally been built opposite the Horyuji to the west with Prince Shotoku's Ikaruganomiya palace in between. Particularly worthy of seeing is the temple's wooden statue depicting a bodhisattva in the half-lotus position. One of only a very few such statues making use of the so-called ""archaic smile,"" some count it alongside the Sphinx and the Mona Lisa as one of the three great smiling artworks of the world. A replica of the Tenjukoku Shucho Mandala, the oldest work of embroidery art in Japan and a designated National Treasure, is enshrined in the main temple building."

    This old temple is adjacent to Horyuji’s Yumedono, and you you hold the ticket for Horyuji, you can get a discount for admission. In this temple, there is a famous Miroku Buddha, which is designated...

  • Matabei Cherry Trees (Hongo no Taki Sakura)
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    4.5
    41 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Udashi Oudahongou
    The Matabei Cherry Trees are “weeping” cherry trees, located in the city of Uda and said to be 300 years old. According to legend, Goto Matabei, a military commander in the Warring States period, came to live here, and since the trees are near the ruins of his manor house, the trees are referred to as “Matabei Cherry Trees.” They produce beautiful blossoms in early April, attracting tens of thousands of cherry blossom enthusiasts each year.

    In the month of April, usually for no more than one full week, you can enjoy this giant weeping cherry tree with millions of flowers. It is known as (Goto) Matabeis Weeping Cherry ((後藤)又兵衛桜), or...

  • Tōdai-ji
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    3.5
    14 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Narashi Zoushichou 406-1
    This temple which is located in Nara City is the head temple of the Kegon sect of Buddhism. The principal object of worship at the temple is Vairocana-Buddha which has become a symbol of Nara and is known as “Nara’s Big Buddha”. Emperor Shomu issued a decree to construct the Great Buddha in 743, and in order to enshrine that Great Buddha, Tōdai-ji was constructed using all the nation’s power. National Treasures such as the Nandaimon (Great South Gate), Daibutsuden (the Great Buddha), the bell tower and the Hokke-do Hall are dotted throughout the grounds of the temple. It is known internationally as a Japanese sightseeing spot with many foreign tourists also visiting the temple.

    Despite being busy with tourists this Buddhist temple can still bring a sense of calm and serenity of you can find a viewing spot and take in the presence of the enormous Buddha. The surrounding...

  • Wakakusa Curry Honpo
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    4.5
    123 Reviews
    Gourmet / Alcohol
    Nara Pref. Narashi Mochidonochou 38-1
    Wakakusa Curry is a curry restaurant in Mochiidono Town, Nara City. The restaurant serves all sorts of curry such as healthy curries made up of spinach or tomato and mixed with seasoning, and chicken curry made with coconut milk. Guests can customize their curry with a variety of toppings, and can also choose how hot they want it and how much rice to have. Also on the menu are dishes such as baked curry, omelet curry, and curry ramen. Takeaway curry bread is also available.

    It is a small restaurant that is slightly off the main road and easy to find the curry was good enough, service was polite and fast and the price was good.

Nara Areas

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With a reputation almost as stellar as that of Kyoto, Nara is a must-visit for those searching for the remains of "traditional Japan." The largely green Nara city holds the majority of the prefecture's treasures, such as the iconic Todai-ji Temple, in which a 15-meter tall Great Buddha sits, and Nara Park, where deer flock to befriend passersby. While mountains are by no means hard to come by in this area, for hiking with a reward, head to the Kii Mountains' Yoshino district in spring, when the hillsides put on an impressive display of white and pink cherry blossoms.

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