If you go to Nara City by train from Kyoto Station, you will be amazed that there is a still quiet old world remaining in that area. Furthermore, if you go to areas such as Ikaruga, you can meet Japan of an older period. Nara Prefecture invites you to Japan that is older and deeper.
Table of Contents
Outline of Nara
Nara prefecture is located in the southern part of Kyoto. There is the Nara Basin in the northwestern part, but most of the other regions are Mountains.
The center of the Nara Basin is Nara City. Nara is the place where was the capital of Japan before Kyoto. Nara is a quiet city rich in nature. Here are many amazing temples and shrines that are comparable to Kyoto.
In the southern part of Nara prefecture there are vast mountains and plateaus spreading. Among them, there is a forest area called Yoshino mountain area. There is Mt. Yoshino, which is very famous as a cherry blossom spot here.
Although Nara prefecture is located in the center of Japan, transportation networks are not being developed surprisingly.
There are no airports in Nara prefecture. If you want to go to Nara prefecture by plane, you will use Kansai Airport in southern Osaka or Itami Airport in northern Osaka.
It takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes by direct bus from Kansai Airport to Nara city. If you use a train, you will first go to Namba station in Osaka by Nankai Railway. Next, you will go from Kintetsu Osaka Namba Station to Kintetsu Nara Station by Kintetsu Railway. The journey takes approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes.
There is no Shinkansen station in Nara prefecture. So you need to use JR Train or Kintetsu Railway from JR Kyoto Station. If you use limited express from Kintetsu Kyoto station, it takes 35 minutes to Kintetsu Nara station.
There are many sightseeing spots in Nara prefecture that are high level representative of the whole country. For this reason, I have already introduced many of them among other articles. Since I want to avoid writing the same thing, please forgive me that there are many links to those articles.
Many of the tourists in Nara walk from Nara Station to Todaiji Temple. Then They play with deer at nearby Nara Park and visit Kasugataisha Shrine.
Todaiji is a great temple that represents Japan together with the Kinkakuji and Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto. In this temple, as you can see in the picture on the top of this page, a Great Buddha is settled. If you go to Todaiji, you will be amazed at the size of the wooden building that protects the Great Buddha first. And you will be overwhelmed by the power of the great Buddha.
Todaiji was built in the first half of the 8th century when the capital was in Nara. After that, many wooden buildings were destroyed by fire several times, but they were rebuilt each time. The main building currently being built was rebuilt in the 17th century.
In the middle of Nara city, the famous Nara Park is spreading. There are about 1,200 deer in this park.
Deer coexists with humans. The deer in this park does not fear humans. If you go to this park, deer will come closer to you.
In Nara Park, baits that deer eats are sold. You can feed the deer. If you buy bait, nearby deer will come to you. The deer is well behaved, so please try bowing at the deer by all means.
Kasugataisha Shrine is a vast shrine in the back of Nara Park. It was founded in the 8th century. In Kasugataisha the deer is regarded as a messenger of God, so deer is cherished in Nara. Deer, there are a lot of deer beside the stone lanterns around Kasugataisha Shrine. This area is full of majestic atmosphere.
Temples and shrines around JR Nara station were constructed in the 8th century. If you want to see a temple older than these, you can take the JR train and go to JR Horyuji station. There is a Horyuji temple built in 607 AD. Here is the oldest wooden building group in the world.
In this era, Buddhism was hardly widespread in Japan. So, Horyuji was the most avant-garde building at the time. The five-storied pagoda in this temple must have surprised the Japanese at that time.
To JR Horyuji Station is 13 minutes from JR Nara Station. It is about 15 minutes on foot from Horyuji Station to Horyuji Temple.
In Japan, Mr. Yoshino in Nara prefecture is famous for cherry blossoms. Since ancient times, aristocratic people longing for cherry blossoms of Mt. Yoshino, and went out from Kyoto.
Mt. Yoshino is said to have 30,000 cherry blossoms. Every spring, flowers come in order from the foot of the mountain. At the peak, the whole mountain is glossy. There may be no other cherry blossoms of this size.
I appreciate you reading to the end.
Bon KUROSAWA I have long worked as a senior editor for Nihon Keizai Shimbun (NIKKEI) and currently work as an independent web writer. At NIKKEI, I was the editor-in-chief of the media on Japanese culture. Let me introduce a lot of fun and interesting things about Japan. Please refer to this article for more details.