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Temple Spots in Nara Area

  • Tōdai-ji
    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.
  • Omiwa Shrine
    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.
  • Horyu-ji Temple
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    4.5
    526 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Ikomagunikarugachou Houryujisannai 1-1
    This is a temple inside Horyuji-Sannai, Ikaruga Town. It was established in 607 by Prince Shotoku and Empress Suiko, and the current temple building is celebrated as one of the world's oldest wooden structures and Japan's first World Heritage Site. Inside the grounds are 55 pieces of architecture designated as National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties, and in the Daihozoin (Great Treasure Hall) are stored a great many important treasures from the Asuka period. 

    Got there early expecting to see crowds waiting to get in, but not so. Maybe the 1,500 Yen price tag may have scared some off. Buses do go from Nara station, but pretty irregularly, so try the train...

  • Yakushiji Temple
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    4.0
    422 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.)

    The temple site is a bit of a ride from the train station in Nara but well worth the time and effort. We visited in June 2018 and although some of it was covered for restoration the overall...

  • Shigisan Chogosonshi-ji Temple
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Ikomagunhegurichou Shigisan 2280-1
    This is a temple constructed by Prince Shotoku in the latter half of the fifth century, which stands at an elevation of 437 meters halfway up Mt. Shigi. There is a legend that Mt. Shigi originated when, on the hour of Tiger (around 4:00 a.m.) of the day of Tiger of the year of Tiger, the deity Bishamonten (guardian god of Buddhism) appeared and gave the prince the divine protection , thanks to the Bishamonten the Prince enshrined it. So the temple took the tiger as its guardian deity and is decorated here and there with papier tigers. In cherry blossom season over 2,000 stone lanterns light up the cherry trees at night, and in the autumn the whole mountain is colored with close to 1,000 trees changing their leaves.
  • Kohfukuji Temple
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    4.0
    1142 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Narashi Noboriojichou 48
    This is a temple located in Nara City. Yamashina-dera Temple has its origin as a temple that was established in Kyoto in 669 by the wife of Fujiwara no Kamatari. The temple was destroyed by fires many times and was rebuilt, after which it ended up similar to temple ruins during the anti-Buddhist movement in the Meiji period, although the Tokon-do Hall, the five-storied pagoda, the Hokuen-do Hall and the three-storied pagoda which survived have been designated as National Treasures. The five-storied pagoda which is illuminated at night-time has become a symbol of Nara. There are also many Buddhist images enshrined at the temple which have been designated as National Treasures and Cultural Assets such as the Ashura statue.

    Having been to see the giant Buddha as our first stop in Nara, we found this temple a bit underwhelming. Yes, it had pleasant grounds and a nice pagoda, but it didn’t have the wow factor.

  • Toshodaiji Temple
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    4.5
    554 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Narashi Gojouchou 13-46
    The head temple of the Ritsu school of Buddhism, one of the six sects of Buddhism brought to Japan during the Nara period which flourished in ancient Nara. The temple was erected in 759 by Jianzhen, a priest who traveled to Japan from Tang China. Originally the private temple of Jianzhen, it started out quite simple, but key structures such as the main temple were completed by the efforts of his disciples after his passing. The temple contains numerous designated National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties, such as a seated figure of Vairocana, the temple’s principle object of worship. A seated statue of Jianzhen, a National Treasure, is displayed only once a year from June 5 to 7, the dates surrounding the time he died.

    Prepare to walk, but then you’ll see spectacular buildings and views. Don’t miss the garden. Easy access from train station by public bus.

  • Hasedera Temple
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Sakuraishi Hase 731-1
    This prosperous temple, the head temple of the Shingon-shu Buzan-ha sect of Buddhism, is the eight of 33 temples on the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage. It was said to have originated with the installation of the Douban Hokke Sessou Zu (a bronze plaque carved with the Hokke Sutra), a National Treasure, by Domyo Shonin for Emperor Tenmu in 686. It is famous for its large collection of cultural properties, including the Juichimen (11-headed Kanzeon Bodhisattva), the temple's principal object of worship. The temple has a number of historically and cultural significant points of interest, including the 399-step stone stairs (an Important Cultural Property) leading from the Deva gate to the main temple (a National Treasure), the hanging lanterns suspended from the ceiling, and more. In late April, more than 7,000 peonies bloom in the temple gardens.
  • Murouji Temple
    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.
  • Abe Monjuin
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    4.0
    79 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Sakuraishi Abe 645
    This is a Kegon sect Buddhist temple in Abe, Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture, and was built as a shrine for the Abe Kurahashimaro family in the Taika Reform in 645. The principal object of worship is the Monju Bosatsu known for the proverb 'Two heads are better than one.' The national treasure Wooden Image of Kishi Monju Bosatsu and the four flanking images created by Kaikei boast Japan's largest size. Inside the grounds are three ancient burial mounds, as well as the highlight Kinkaku Ukimido Reihokan which holds representations of Benzaiten and Abe no Nakamaro. In spring and autumn the cosmos bloom in profusion, and in September visitors can enjoy a cosmos field maze.

    本尊の渡海文殊像は国宝、桧造りで7mもあるらしい。すぐまじかで拝観することが出来ました。仏像も堂塔も歴史も、境内の古墳を含めて超一流、創建1400年に迫ろうかと云う素晴らしい寺院でした。池に浮かぶ金閣浮御堂は水面に投影されて一層素晴らしい。毎年の干支を表示している庭の巨大な花畑はテレビ局が撮影に来るほどのもの。檀家を有さない寺院の経営は大変かとは思うが、和尚の余りにも商売熱心なのは神聖な寺院として...

  • Hozan-ji Temple (Shoten-san)
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    4.0
    65 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Ikomashi Monzenchou 1-1
    The head temple of Shingon Risshu Buddhism, the Hozan-ji is located in Monzen Town, Ikoma City, Nara Prefecture and was founded in 1678 by Tankai. A figure of Daishokangiten is enshrined in the Shotendo hall as the temple’s tutelary god; worshipped by people seeking benefits in the present world, Daishokangiten is also known as “Ikoma Shoten-san,” the god of prosperous business. The main temple building, the oldest structure on the temple grounds, houses the temple’s principal object of worship, a wooden figure of Acala designated an Important Cultural Property. Some of the temple’s many highlights include the Shishi-kaku, a Western-style building erected in the Meiji period, and the Hanya-kutsu cave, where the mystic En no Ozuno (shaman) made offerings of the Widsom Sutras. A Kangiten temple festival is held every 1st and 16th of the month, and this event is attended by numerous worshipers seeking benefits in this life.

    奈良県生駒市にある宝山寺(ほうざんじ)は、江戸時代に開山し、商売の神として大阪商人の信仰を集め、京都の皇室や徳川将軍家の祈願もありました。現在でも年間300万人の参拝客を集めています^o^ Houzanji in Ikoma-city, Nara Prefecture, opened in 1678 in the Edo period and gathered the faith of the...

  • Okadera Temple
    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.
  • Minami Hokke-ji Temple (Tsubosaka-dera Temple)
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    4.0
    49 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Takaichi-gun, Nara Prefecture Takatori Town Utsusaka 3
    This old Shingon sect Buddhist temple, known as the sixth temple on the Saigoku Thirty-three Kannon Temples Pilgrimage, is said to have been built in 703. The eleven-faced, thousand-armed Kannon (Bodhisattva or Goddess of Mercy) enshrined there as the honzon (principal object of worship) has a miraculous effect on eye disease, and attracts a great many worshippers from across the country. The three-storied pagoda and Reido have been designated as National Important Cultural Properties.

    An invitation from a monk brought me to Tsubosaka Temple. I was not disappointed. My guide told me many of the folklore stories about the temple and its creation and the significance of many of the...

  • Great South Gate
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Narashi Zoushichou 406-1 in the Todaiji Temple
    This is the main gate of Tōdai-ji in Nara City and has been designated as a National Treasure. The original gate was destroyed by a typhoon in 962, and the present gate was rebuilt in the Kamakura period. It is Japan’s largest temple gate reaching a height of 25.46 meters. There are 18 giant pillars up to the roof, and in the lower section of the gate, the back of the roof structure has no ceiling—so it is famous as the architectural structure which houses the Great Buddha.
  • Great Buddha Hall
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    4.5
    42 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Narashi Zoushichou 406-1 in the Todaiji Temple
    The “Tōdai-ji” Buddhist temple located in Nara City is a National Treasure of Japan. It is the largest architectural structure on the grounds, and was built to enshrine the seated statue of Rushanabutsu which is the principal image of worship and is known as “the Great Buddha of Nara”. The Rushanabutsu statue is a copper structure which stands at an approximate height of 14.7 meters, and one section which was built during the Tempyo period has survived. From New Year’s Eve until New Year’s Day, an observation window on the front of the Kara Hafu (literally, Tang gable) is opened and you can see the Great Buddha’s face from outside.

    This is the main hall of the Todaiji Temple which houses its huge Buddha. The highlight of my trip to Nara, definitely worth paying the entrance fee.

  • Nigatsu-do
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    4.0
    35 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Narashi Zoushichou 406-1 in the Todaiji Temple
    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.

    For us This unique place turned to be a great discovery during a day-trip to Nara. After visiting Nigatsu-do we’ve seen it by chance and decided to visit it. We payed the entrance fee of 500 yen...

  • Nanendo Temple
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    4.0
    28 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Narashi Noboriojichou 48
    This octagonal temple located inside the Kohfukuji Temple is designated an Important Cultural Property. As the ninth station in the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage, the temple is visited by an unending stream of worshippers. The temple was built in 813 by the noble Fujiwara no Fuyutsugu in prayer for the happiness in the next world of his father, Fujiwara no Uchimaro. The current temple was rebuilt in 1789, the fourth time the temple was rebuilt, in an old-fashioned style believed to be modeled after the Hokuendo Temple, also located inside the Kohfukuji. The two principle objects of worship enshrined inside the temple, the Seated Figure of Amoghapasa and the Standing Figures of the Four Heavenly Kings, were created by famed sculptor Kokei. The temple doors behind which these statues are hidden are only opened on October 17 each year during the Reading of the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra.

    This is worth a quick look as you go past as it has an unusual shape. However, there’s nothing else memorable about it so not worth a diversion.

  • Kinpusen-ji Temple Zaoudou
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    4.5
    210 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.

    This is a bigger temple than the rest and is located nearer to the foot of the temple. It is one of the more popular temples in the mountain. Worth a visit.

  • Nyoirin-ji Temple
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    3.5
    4 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Yoshinogunyoshinochou Yoshinoyama 1024
    A Pure Land sect Buddhist temple built by Nichizo in the Engi period between 901 and 923. Designated an imperial temple by Emperor Go-Daigo during the Nanboku-cho period (1336-1392), Kusunoki Masashige’s eldest son Masatsura, anticipating his end in the Battle of Shijonawate, carved his death poem the doors of the main nave before departing for the front. In spring, the figure of the bodhisattva Cintamanicakra, housed in the main nave, is unveiled.

    桜の季節に行ったので、みなさん紙コップに入った桜のアイスを食べてました。あとは、夕方だったこともあり、閑散とした印象でした。

  • Shinyakushi-ji Temple
    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.

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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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