Nara – A City Run by Deer

Nara is the capital city of Nara Prefecture located in the Kansai region of Japan. Nara is beautiful, mystic and also a little bit of a weird place if you ask me. The city used to be the first permanent capital of Japan in the year 710, so there are many stunning landmarks and some of Japan’s largest and oldest temples to be found in Nara. But, most importantly the large park that is home to many of those shrines and temples, is ruled more than a thousand cute deer. I firmly believe that it is those free roaming and trusting (or rather needy) deer that turn Nara into one of the main tourist attractions in Japan.

Here are some impressions from our trip to Nara, including some things we saw and did.

Todaiji Temple

This temple is hard to miss if you make your way to Nara and it is well worth a visit. The temple is one of the oldest and largest in all of Japan, and it dates back to 752. The temple you can visit today is a reconstruction of the original temple. It dates back to 1692, and until today it remains the largest wooden structure in the world. It’s a stunning side inside and out. In the main temple hall, you will find one of the biggest bronze Buddha statues in the world.

Isuien Garden

A 10-minute walk from Todaiji Temple you will find a beautiful Japanese garden. While there are quite a few tourists and school-children out and about around the temples, Isuien Garden is a very calm and serene place. You will have to pay a small entrance fee to visit the garden, but it is well worth it. An elderly gentleman accompanied us through the first part of the garden, explaining its history and some Japanese traditions to us. Later we were free to roam the garden’s pathways on our own.

Kasuga Taisha

This is the most important shrine in Nara. The shrine dates back to the year Nara was established as capital, and it is dedicated to the protection of the city. Until the Edo Period, the Shrine had to be rebuilt every 20 years. One thing the shrine is famous for is its lanterns. Large stone lanterns line the way up to Kasuga Taisha, all of them donated by worshippers. The woods around the shrine feature many smaller shrines, lots more stone lanterns, and deer. So, dedicate some time in Nara to a walk in the woods!

More Impressions from Nara

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