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Nature Spots in Nara Area

  • Mt. Wakakusayama (Mt. Mikasa)
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Narashi Kasuganochou Little Women
    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.
  • Mt. Yoshino
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Yoshinogunyoshinochou Yoshinoyama
    Mt. Yoshino is one of Japan’s most beautiful areas for seeing cherry blossoms and it is said even the great Toyotomi Hideyoshi came here to view the cherries. The cherries, which number some 30 thousand in total, are divided into areas – the Shimosenbon (Lower 1,000 Trees), Nakasenbon (Middle 1,000 Trees), Kamisenbon (Upper 1,000 Trees), and Okusenbon (Inner 1,000 Trees). The trees gradually come into blossom starting with the Shimosenbon, eventually coloring the entire mountain with their flowers. The sight, praised since ancient times in countless waka poems, continues to captivate the hearts of throngs of people today. The mountain was designated a national Site of Scenic Beauty and Historic Site in 1924. In 2004, the sacred land extending from Mt. Yoshino and Mt. Koya to Kumano as well as the intervening pilgrimage routes were registered collectively as the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range World Heritage Site.
  • Mt. Shigi
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Ikomagunhegurichou Shigisan
    "Mt. Shigi is a mountain situated close to the boundary between Osaka Prefecture and Nara Prefecture that is closely associated with Shotoku Taishi (Prince Shotoku). According to tradition, while the Prince was engaged in a punitive expedition against Mononobe Moriya, the Buddhist deity Bishamonten (Vaisravana) appeared to him and taught him a secret method for securing victory. The name ""Mt. Shigi"" derives from the subsequent belief that the mountain where this event took place deserved to be trusted and revered. Mt. Shigi has two peaks: Otake, the northern peak, is 437 meters high, while Metake, the southern peak, is 400.5 meters high. The mountain is relatively easy to climb, and has been included in the list of the ""Top 100 Best Mountains to Visit in Nara Prefecture."" On the southern slopes of Mt. Shigi there is the Chogosonshi-ji Temple, a Buddhist temple belonging to the Shigisan Shingon sect that is dedicated to Bishamonten; the Temple is famous as a great place for viewing autumn foliage."
  • Soni Highland
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Udagunsonimura Taroji
    "The Soni Highlands in Uda County, Nara Prefecture, are known for Okame Pond. The highlands extend out from the western foothills of Mt. Kameyama, so called because it resembles the back of a turtle (""kame"" in Japanese) when viewed from 1038-meter Mt. Kuroso (one of the Japan's 300 famous mountains). Chinese silvergrass grows throughout the highlands, and every year in mid March, the hills are subjected to controlled burning, so that visitors can enjoy the fresh greenery on the hills in the summer. At Okame Pond, which features in a famous legend, visitors can see rare plants that grow only in wetlands. One of the best hiking routes in the Kansai region for families (the Kogen Daisuki Course or ""I Love the Highlands Route"") is located here, and hikers can see the National Natural Monuments, Yoroi Dake (""Armor Peak""), Kabuto Dake (""Helmet Peak""), and Byobu Iwa (""Screen Rock"")."
  • Kameishi Boulder
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Takaichigunasukamura Kawahara
    This granite boulder sits near a residence in Asukamura. It is 3.6 meters long by 2.1 meters wide and 1.8 meters tall. Its period and purpose of construction are still unknown. On the lower section an animal-like face was carved, and as it resembles a turtle the boulder was named Kameishi (turtle rock). The Kameishi currently faces south west but there is legend that when it turns to face the west the whole of the Nara Basin will turn into a sea of mud.
  • Sakafune-ishi
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Takaichigunasukamura Oka
    This strangely patterned stone is approximately five meters in length, 2.3 meters wide, and one meter thick. Legend says it was used for brewing sake thus giving it its name, but there are various other theories.
  • Sarusawa Pond
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Narashi Hashimotochou
    This pond, 360m in circumference, is located in Nara Park. It beautifully reflects the five-tiered pagoda of Kofukuji Temple in its waters, and is said to be one of the top eight sites to see in Nara. Said to be built as the Kofukuji Temple’s ceremonial pond into which fish and animals were released to let live, this pond is famous for it many sun-bathing turtles.
  • Oni no Secchin Rock
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Takaichigunasukamura Noguchi
    These large boulders are thought to have been the rock chamber of a burial mound or part of a furnace. According to legend, and oni ogre would entrap humans and eat them, and then with his stomach full, would need to use the facilities; hence, Oni no Secchin means, the ogre’s toilet.
  • Mitarai Gorge
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Yoshinoguntenkawamura Kitozumi
    Large and small waterfalls cascade into emerald green waters in this fantastical gorge. The sight of the forceful water flowing beneath the swinging bridge is as beautiful a scene can be. The natural beauty that can be seen by walking the paths along the river’s edge is beautiful in any season but the autumn foliage is especially recommended.
  • Menfudo Limestone Cave
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Yoshinoguntenkawamura Dorogawa 678-89
    Menfudo Limestone cave is the largest limestone cave in the Kansai region. Inside the dome-shaped interior, visitors can see marvelous stalactites and stalagmites. The average temperature inside the cave is about 8°C year-round. A statue of the guardian deity Fudo has been set up in the deepest part of the cave, where no outside air penetrates.
  • Mt. Odaigahara
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Yoshinogunkamikitayamamura Kotochi
    With a height of 1695 meters, Mt. Odaigahara straddles the border between Nara and Mie Prefectures and has been selected as one of Japan’s 100 best mountains. In addition, it was designated a national park in 1936. The mountaintop is broadly divided into two plateaus, the East Plateau, which contains numerous beauty spots, including Hidegatake Peak, and the West Plateau, which contains an primeval forest that is home to rare plants and animals. Since the West Plateau is a restricted area, hikers need to obtain a permit in advance. The mountain receives heavy precipitation throughout the year, and it is covered with one of the world’s several temperate rainforests.
  • Mt. Miwa
    Travel / Tourism
    Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture
    This mountain located in Miwa, Sakurai City is the tutelary deity of the Ohmiwa Jinja Shrine that sits in its foothills. The mountain has been a destination for the faithful since ancient times due its enshrinement of the Shinto god Omononushi-no-Okami. It is described in historical records such as the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki and also appears in many classic Japanese poems. Access to the mountain is currently only granted for the purpose of worshipping at the shrine (Visitors must sign in at Saijinja Shrine, an auxiliary shrine on the grounds of Ohmiwa Jinja Shrine.).
  • Itto-seki Split Boulder
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Narashi Yagyuchou
    This massive stone, split right down the middle, is located in the southeast corner of Hotoku-ji Temple in Yagyucho, Nara City. Legend has it that it was cleaved in twain with a single sword stroke by Yagyu Munetoshi (Sekishusai), the founder of the Yagyu Shinkage-ryu school of swordfighting, during a duel with a Tengu (long-nosed goblin). This is the origin of the stone's name Itto-seki (single stroke stone).
  • Kuragari Pass
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Prefecture Ikoma-shi, Osaka-fu Higashi Osaka-shi
    This mountain pass, a Nara Prefecture Landscape Heritage, has long been known as the road taken from Osaka to Nara or to Ise Grand Shrine by people on pilgrimages. The path is lined with stone monuments and still has its original cobbled road surface. It is also famous for the poetry written by Matsuo Basho while he walked there. The name Kuragari (darkness) comes from how dimly lit the path is even during the day due to the shade of thick tree coverage.
  • Lake Tsuburo
    Travel / Tourism
    Yoshino cho, Yoshino gun, Nara prefecture
    This lake is a great place to enjoy fishing or a ride on a sightseeing boat. The lake is home to bass, Japanese pond smelt, white crucian carp, common carp, rainbow trout, and other species of fish. The lake is a popular destination for aquatic leisure, including rental boats and pleasure cruises. A number of events are held at the lake all year long, making it a fun destination regardless of the season. In winter, you can enjoy Japanese pond smelt fishing. In spring, there are a number of festivals to enjoy, including a Sakura (cherry blossom) festival, Suijin (water god) festival, and Momiji (autumn foliage) festival in fall.
  • Goyomatsu Limestone Cave
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    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Yoshinoguntenkawamura Dorogawa
    This more than 200 meter-deep limestone cave has a truly mystical atmosphere created by its faintly-lit stalactites, stone pillars, and stalagmites. The cave's largest stone pillar, a truly impressive sight, is a full eight meters tall. Sign up for guided cave tours at Gorogoro Chaya. The caves are closed on Wednesdays and for winter (December 1 to mid-March).

    洞川温泉に宿泊、車はお宿に置いたまま歩いて五代松鍾乳洞へ。少し歩きますが、途中にも蟷螂の祠?だったかな、奇岩が見れて退屈はしませんでした。こちらも案内してくださる方がいるようですが、時間がないので外観だけ見学。 トロッコは満員だったので歩いて登りました。10分くらいで登り、傾斜がありだいぶ汗をかきました。 案内のおじいさま方がみなさんほっこり優しくて、鍾乳洞も想像以上に洞穴感があって楽しかったです...

  • Momonoo-no-Taki Falls
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Tenrishi Takimotochou
    This 23 meter-tall waterfall is one of the largest that lies along the Kasuga fault scarp. Long beloved by locals as Furu no Taki, the falls are a popular place to escape the summer heat. The falls are also famous for the Fudo Sanzon Magaibutsu carved into a stone wall on the left side of the plunge pool. This image of the Fudo Trinity is considered to be an excellent example of mid-Kamakura period Buddhist wall carving.
  • Mt. Misen and Mt. Hakkyogatake
    Travel / Tourism
    Tenkawa village Yoshino gun, Nara prefecture
    Hakkyogatake is one of the 100 famous mountains of Japan and is the highest peak in the Kinki region. It is well-known for Oyama magnolia, which is a Nationally Designated Natural Monument. Oyama magnolia blooms from early to mid-July and until recently only mountain ascetics and some mountain climbers ever set eye on it, leading the illusionary flower to be called the celestial maiden flower. It has a splendid aroma and beautiful, white petals.
  • Mt. Katsuragi
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Goseshi Kujira
    Every year, azaleas cover Mt. Yamato Katsuragi with color around mid-May. The season begins with the buds swelling in early May, reaching full bloom in the middle of the month, and the season ends by late May. During full bloom, when it is said you can see a million azaleas in one glance, the area gets crowded with visitors, so you can expect full parking lots and a wait of 20 minutes or more to ride the ropeway. It is recommended to wait until the crowds subside in the evening to take the ropeway, spend the night at Katsuragi Kogen Lodge, and then enjoy the azaleas in the morning.
  • Byobuiwa Rock
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Udagunsonimura Nagano
    Byobu Rock is a rock formation located to the west of Kabuto Dake Peak in the village of Soni, Uda County, Nara Prefecture. It extends for two kilometers, and when viewed from the south, it looks like a byobu (folding screen), due to the series of sheer cliffs that look like a sharp saw blade. Mitsuba azaleas grow wild on the rock wall, and 300 large mountain cherry trees in the park at the foot of the rock bloom from mid to late April and are illuminated at night. In the fall, visitors can enjoy fantastic views of the autumn leaves. In 1934, the rock was designated a National Natural Monument.

Nara Main 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.

Nara Photo Album

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