Nara Prefecture, which is linked to Osaka and Kyoto, is a place with traces of Japan’s past. With the city of Nara’s many historic buildings, Yoshino which is nationally famous as a site for cherry blossoms, Ikaruga which is an area related to Prince Shotoku, Asuka which is where Buddhist culture first set down its roots, and other places, the prefecture brings the sights of a millennium ago as the land which started the nation of Japan. The cultural properties of ancient Nara, the Buddhist buildings within Horyu-ji Temple and the sacred grounds and path of the Kii Mountains have been registered as World Heritage sites. Nara is also an area rich in history with numerous National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties.
The Great Buddha of Todai-ji Temple is a symbol of Nara which is the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha. In addition to the historic buildings including Horyu-ji and Koufuku-ji Temples, the ruins of Heijo Palace and Kasuga Taisha Shrine, there are examples of nature such as the Kasuga Primeval Forest and Mt. Yoshino which have also been registered as World Heritage sites. There are many highlights such as Nara Park with welcoming deer which are said to be the messengers of gods, the attractive Naramachi with its folksy townscape and the Japanese garden of Isui-en.
Specialties of Nara are sushi wrapped in persimmon leaves and Nara pickles. Regional dishes include Tenri ramen, Miwa soumen and Asuka hot pot. As well, there is the popular rice soup using Yamato tea and Nara black rice curry.
Taking the train from Tokyo Station is customary. The Tokaido Shinkansen (Bullet Train) takes 2 hours and 20 minutes to reach Kyoto where you can transfer to either a JR or Kintetsu train to reach Nara in 30 to 45 minutes. Nara, which has plenty of strolling spots, can also be navigated by train. Also there is less chance of getting lost since there are no subways. There is also a tourist bus for getting around the city.
There are many accommodations around tourist destinations such as Nara, Ikaruga, Tenri, Asuka, Kashihara, Miwa and Yoshino. Also, there are wooden hotels and onsen inns which make good use of the view.