Nara Tourist Spot Information
Discount coupon to sightseeing facilities
Kasuga Taisha Shrine
This is one of the most famous shrines in Nara, featuring a striking sanctuary lacquered in vermillion, and is known to house a deity that helps bring about good fortune and transportation safety. The approach to the sanctuary is lined with stone lanterns, and the corridors are arrayed with hanging lanterns. The traditional rebuilding of the shrine is being conducted for the 60th time during 2015 and 2016. The shrine also has a Man'yo Botanical Garden featuring approximately 300 different species of plants that were mentioned in the Manyoshu (ancient collection of poems), including its symbolic Wisteria plant.
Web http://www.kasugataisha.or.jp/about/index_en.html Access Approx. 10-min walk from Kasuga Taisha Omotesando bus stop, or next to Kasuga Taisha Honden bus stop. Both stops are served by Nara Kotsu Buses from KINTETSU-NARA Sta.
Todai-ji Temple was established in the Nara Period. Passing through the Nandaimon (the main or Great South Gate, a National Treasure) protected by Kongorikishizo (guardian statues, a National Treasure) on either side of the gate, you can see the big roofs of Daibutsuden (The Great Buddha Hall, a National Treasure) rising over the middle gate. The 57-meter wide and 47.5-meter high Daibutsuden is the largest wooden building in the world. It also represents the Tenpyo culture in terms of its scale and large number of treasures. It contains hundreds of thousands of various National Treasures and Important Cultural Heritages. The 15-meter tall Daibutsu in the temple is a gigantic statue more popularly known as "Nara no Daibutsu-sama (meaning simply, The Great Buddha of Nara)." At the north of the temple is Shoso-in (Imperial Repository), the end of the Silk-Road. In the west, there is Kaidan-in Hall, which holds statues of Shitenno (the Four Deva Kings, a National Treasure), masterpieces of Tenpyo Era sculpture.
Web http://www.todaiji.or.jp/english/index.html Access From KINTETSU-NARA Sta., take the Nara Kotsu Bus to Daibutsuden Kasugataisha Mae bus stop. Approx. 5-min walk from the bus stop.
A large park on the eastern side of Nara city that encompasses an area of approximately 660 hectares including Mount Wakakusa, Mount Hana and Mount Ho. The park, with its grassy knolls and pine forest, is not only home to the Kasuga Taisha Shrine and the temples Kohfukuji and Todai-ji, but also includes the Asajigahara where the Man'yo poets once walked, as well as the Tobihino where people can come to meet the deer. The shrine and temples create a breathtaking landscape that bring an element of history in a manner that is in harmony with its natural surroundings. Approximately 1,500 deer frolic in the park, and visitors will be charmed by the unique beauty of the place, no matter what season they visit.
Web http://nara-park.com/en/ Access Approx. 5-min walk from KINTETSU-NARA Sta.
The area centered around former Gango-ji Temple (World Heritage) is called "Nara-Machi." Machiya (homes) with thick, wooden latticework and temples show you the lives of ordinary people and cultures from the end of the Edo Period to the Meiji Period. Be sure to stop by the archive, museum, and other interesting facilities, and enjoy a leisurely walk around Nara-Machi.
Web http://www.naramachiinfo.jp/ Access Get off at KINTETSU-NARA Sta. Walk past Sarusawa Pond, and walk south for approx. 15-min.
Nara National Museum
The museum opened in 1895 to collect, conserve, and exhibit Buddhist art and other cultural artifacts. Japan's second oldest museum, the Nara National Museum is located adjacent to Todai-ji and Kohfukuji Temples and Kasuga Taisha Shrine. Known as a vast repository of Buddhist art, the museum displays outstanding examples of Buddhist sculpture in its Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall, a building listed as an Important Cultural Property. The museum’s New Wings serve as venues for special exhibitions such as the Annual Exhibition of Shoso-in Treasures, and for displaying highlights from the museum’s painting, calligraphy, applied arts, and archeology collections.
Web http://www.narahaku.go.jp/english/index_e.html Access Approx. 15-min walk from KINTETSU-NARA Sta.
Originally Yamashina-dera Temple, built by Kagamino-okimi, the wife of Fujiwarano Kamatari. One of the most memorable scenes here is the reflection of the Five-story Pagoda (a National Treasure) in Sarusawa Pond. A masterpiece of Hakuho Era sculpture, the former Toukondo Hall's Buddha Head (a National Treasure) and Ashura-zo (a National Treasure) with a melancholy expression in Kokuho-kan (the Kohfukuji National Treasure Hall) are must-sees.
Web http://www.kohfukuji.com/english.html Access Approx. 5-min walk from KINTETSU-NARA Sta.
When the temple was first founded in the year 765, it had as many as 110 buildings. However, the temple went into temporary decline due to fire and other misfortunes. Today, simple yet outstanding buildings such as the Hondo (main building), Aizen-do, Shio-do, and Shuho-kan have been reconstructed. The temple is famous for its tea ceremony held every spring and autumn called the Ochamori-shiki that serves tea in huge bowls.
Web http://saidaiji.or.jp/ Access Approx. 5-min walk from south exit of YAMATO-SAIDAIJI Sta.
(Ruins of Heijokyu Palace)
About 1,300 years ago, Heijyo-kyo was modeled on Chang’an, the capital of Tang in China, and its central place was Heijo Palace. With Suzaku-oji street in the center, the city was designed in a grid pattern. Suzaku-mon (the main gate of the Heijyo Palace) was reconstructed in its original vivid colors. In 2010, the city celebrated its 1300-year anniversary with many special events.
Web http://heijo-kyo.com/en/ Access Approx. 8-min walk from YAMATO-SAIDAIJI Sta.
The East Pagoda (a National Treasure) of Yakushi-ji Temple, once admired by Fenollosa as "Frozen Music," is an original structure dating from when the temple complex was first built on the present site. Yakushi-Sanzonzo (the Yakushi Triad) in the Kondo (the main hall) is said to be the pinnacle of Japanese Buddhist art. The painting representing Kichijo-Tennyo (a National Treasure) and other treasures may help you imagine the gorgeous ancient Yakushi-ji Temple in its heyday. Another highlight is the series of large murals in the Genjosanzo-in-garan, painted by renowned artist Ikuo Hirayama over a period of 30 years.
Web http://www.nara-yakushiji.com/ Access 0-min from NISHINOKYŌ Sta.
Yoshino Mikumari-Jinja Shrine
Yoshinomikumari Shrine enshrining the deity of water is located at top of Yoshinosan. It is commonly known as god of safe childbirth because Shrine’s name〝mikumari″close to 〝mikomori″means conceiving. The main shrine which is built by Ikkensha-kasugazukuri in between the Sangensha-nagarezukuri provides elegant appearence.
Web http://www.yoshinoyama-sakura.jp/english/ Access Take the ropeway from YOSHINO Sta. to Yoshinoyama Sta., and walk for approx. 60-min.
Zao-do, Kinpusen-ji Temple
Kinpusen-ji Temple is the pinnacle of Shugendo, a Shinto-Buddhist cult devoted to rigorous training, ascetic practices and mountain worship. The temple is said to have begun when its founder spent one thousand days in practice and received a vision or impression of Shugendo leader Zao Gongen, and after carving that image into the trunk of a cherry tree, the worship at this place began. The 34-meter tall Zao-do is one of the largest-scale wooden building next to Todai-ji Temple, and is now registered as a World Heritage. "Kinpusen" means a string of mountains that starts in Yoshino and they have been sacred mountains for ages. Its symbol is the Zao-do. The temple's main three statues, Kongo-zao-gongenzo, are not on display and are usually kept inside the shrine.
Web http://www.kinpusen.or.jp/ Access Take the ropeway from YOSHINO Sta. to Yoshinoyama Sta., and walk for approx. 10-min
Toshodai-ji was established by Jianzhen (Ganjin in Japanese), a high priest from Tang China, as Japan’s first institution for Buddhist training. Renowned as an excellent surviving example of Tenpyo-era Buddhist architecture, the uniquely harmonious arrangement of temple buildings within the precincts has been likened to a “symphony.” The Kondo, or Golden Hall (a National Treasure) is the largest extant example of Tenpyo architecture. The Kodo, or lecture Hall (a National Treasure), was relocated from the Nara Imperial Palace, Heijyo-kyo. These and other remarkable buildings and treasures will help you get a feel for the splendor of Tenpyo culture.
Web http://www.toshodaiji.jp/english/index.html Access Approx. 8-min walk from NISHINOKYŌ Sta.
Ganko Ittetsu Nagaya (craft factories and shops)
Visitors can closely view the creation of Nara's traditional handicrafts, such as carving and pottery at factories in the Nagaya (row house). There are also shops selling handicraft products and a museum featuring Nara ink and its history. World Heritage sites of Yakushi-ji and Toshodai-ji Temples are located near the Nagaya.
Web http://www.e-unica.jp/colum/gankonagaya.html Access Approx. 5-min walk from NISHINOKYŌ Sta.
Ashibi no Sato Restaurant
This Japanese restaurant is attached to Ashibi-ya Honpo, a shop selling nara-zuke (pickles seasoned with sake lees) with a 1,200-year history. The restaurant serves authentic Japanese dishes and matcha (powdered green tea) in various settings that customers can choose from, such as tatami rooms, storehouse-like rooms, and terrace seats. The restaurant also sells nara-zuke and handicrafts made in Nara.
Web http://www.ashibinosato.com/about.html Hours Approx. 10-min walk from KINTETSU-NARA Sta.
Ikoma Sanjo Amusement Park
An admission-free amusement park on top of Mt. Ikoma, where visitors can enjoy 24 kinds of rides. The attractions include the airplane tower, with a good view of Osaka Bay, and the Puka-Puka Panda an aerial ride moving around to view the park from above. Amusing sightseeing cable cars shaped like dogs and cats are available to ride to the Park.
Web http://www.ikomasanjou.com/images/map_en.pdf Access IKOMA Sta. -> Ikoma Cable IKOMASANJŌ Sta. (1-min walk from cable Sta.)
Fondly referred to as “Shoden-san” after the deity of commerce it is dedicated to, the temple has long been worshiped by local people. The temple is also famous for its popularity among worshippers wishing to rid themselves or others of undesirable habits (such as overdrinking, and cheating on partners) and the resultant display of amusing ema (illustrated wooden votive offerings). Always filled with incense smoke (employed for purification), the temple grounds also feature an interesting Western-style former guest house, named Shishi-kaku.
Web http://www.hozanji.com/ Access IKOMA Sta. -> Ikoma Cable HŌZANJI Sta. from which approx. 10-min walk
Isuien Garden/Neiraku Museum
The large Isuien Garden consists of two gardens: Zen'en (front garden) and Kouen (back garden). Each was established in a different period. The front garden, the site of a temple associated with Kohfukuji Temple, is believed to have been set up as the garden plot by prosperous merchant by creating the reed structure "Sanshu-tei" in the early Edo Period. While the rear garden takes advantage of the distant scenery of Mt. Wakakusa and Mt. Kasuga, the middle scene makes use of the fountain pond migration technique, known as "scenery borrowing." Here, it borrows the views of the Nandaimon roofs of Todai-ji Temple. The garden dates from the Meiji Period. Interesting buildings made of reeds and the Hiwadabuki tree are found here and there. Neiraku-Museum, which is in the garden, contains about two thousand antiques, such as bronze works and paintings.
Web https://www.isuien.or.jp/en/index.html Access From KINTETSU-NARA Sta., take the Nara Kotsu Bus to Kencho-Higashi bus stop. Approx. 3-min walk from there.
Founded by Prince Shotoku, this temple comprises two parts: the Sai-in (western part), which includes the Kondo (a National Treasure and reputedly the world’s oldest surviving wooden structure) and Five-Story Pagoda (National Treasure), and the To-in (eastern part), which centers around the Yumedono Hall (National Treasure). Buddhist statues enshrined in the Kondo include the Archaic-smiling Shaka Triad (National Treasure), the seated statue of Yakushi Nyorai (National Treasure), and statues of the Shitenno (National Treasure). The scale of the temple complex and number of National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties make Horyu-ji Temple an attractive place to visit. Another must-see within the grounds is the Daihozo-in (lit. Great Treasure Repository), which consists of the Kudara Kannon Hall, East Treasury, and West Treasury. Horyu-ji and other “Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area” became Japan’s first World Heritage sites.
Web http://www.horyuji.or.jp/ Access From TSUTSUI Sta., take the Nara Kotsu Bus to Horyu-ji-mae bus stop. Approx. 5-min walk from there.
Asuka Ishibutai Burial Mound (Ishibutai Kofun)
The bucolic landscape of Asuka and its serene mountain paths are dotted with curious stone structures of unknown origins, such as an amusing rendition of a monkey and a turtle. Visitors will also be startled by one known as an ogre's toilet, as well as that of a cutting board. Among these mysterious stones, the biggest structure is the Ishibutai burial mound, which is one of the largest ancient cave tomb in Japan that has a stone chamber with a side entrance. It was built by piling up enormous rocks, of which the largest is estimated to weigh 77 tons. The tomb is believed to be that of Soga no Umako, and represents how powerful he once was. Visitors can enter the stone chamber, and will be surprised by its size.
Web https://www.asuka-park.go.jp/asuka_en/tumulus/index.html Access From ASUKA Sta. or KASHIHARAJINGŪ-MAE Sta., take the Nara Kotsu Bus to Ishibutai-mae bus stop.
This shrine was built based on descriptions from the Nihon Shoki (The Chronicles of Japan), at the site of the Kashihara-gu where Japan's first emperor, Jinmu, is said to have ascended the throne. The vast precincts cover an area of roughly 500,000 ㎡. The shrine buildings, including the Honden, Heiden, Naihaiden, and Gehaiden, are aligned against a backdrop of deep greenery, exuding solemnity and grandeur. The white sand beautifully contrasts with the buildings. Shinrin Yuen Park, where 150,000 trees comprising 500 species are planted, is located on the east side of the shrine. To the south of the shrine is Fukada Pond, which reflects the beauty of each season.
Azaleas: Late April through late May
Water lilies: Late May through late October
Chrysanthemums: Mid-October through late November
Web http://www.kashiharajingu.or.jp/ Access Approx. 10-min walk from KASHIHARAJINGŪ-MAE Sta.