Next to Kyoto, Nara is a city that is rich in cultural legacy of temples, shrines and gardens. It is easy to get to, less than an hour train journey from either Osaka or Kyoto and makes a nice destination for a day trip, for individuals, couples and families. It has eight UNESCO World Heritage sites which can fill a day’s itinerary of any visitor here. I could not visit all the Sites because it rained for most of the day on my visit. I spent a good 6 hours in Nara City, taking a stroll through the Park, feeding deer and visiting the most iconic temples within the Park which I would highly recommend. Also, try and fit in a walk around in the City. You can buy A Complete Guide to Nara: A Photographic Journey to plan a comprehensive visit to this City.
Nara Park is a Must See in Nara City. It is a public park, situated in Central Nara, at the foot of Mt. Wakakusa and spans over 660 hectares. The Park was established in 1880 and is the oldest park in Japan. It is home to nearly 1200 free-roaming deer and they are a symbol of the City. In Shinto, deer are considered to be messengers of gods and they have been designated as national treasure. The deer are surprisingly tame and people-friendly, however, they can get aggressive if they think that you are going to feed them, but really, they are nothing to worry about. Some deer will bow, as a gesture, asking to be fed. You can feed them with wafer-like deer crackers, shika senbei which are sold around the Park for about 100 Yen.
The iconic temples and shrines which I visited are all located within Nara Park. I used Kintetsu Nara Station as I travelled from Kyoto. Please click on the link to read more.
- Todaiji (東大寺) meaning “Great Eastern Temple”, is a landmark of Nara and is situated in the northern part of Nara Park. It is one of Japan’s most historic of temples which was originally constructed in 752, during the Nara period …
- On the opposite side of the park to Todaiji, across the road is the Kasuga Taisha (春日大社) shrine, dedicated to the deity that protects the city. Legend has it that Takemikazuchi no Mikoto, …
- Kofukuji (興福寺) Temple is a Buddhist Temple, which was one of the Seven Powerful Great Temples in Nara. It is one of the eight UNESCO World Heritage site listed
Useful information: Below is a bird’s eye view of Nara Park and the location of the historic places I visited, Todaiji Temple, Kasuga Taisha Shrine and Kofukuji Temple.