Tourist attractions in Nara Prefecture
English | Japanese
We will introduce sightseeing spots in Nara for those who come to Japan from overseas.
(Last modified: )
Table of contents
Sure, here are some popular tourist attractions in Nara that you might be interested in visiting.
Todaiji Temple is the head temple of the Kegon sect located in Nara City, Nara Prefecture. It is famous for its Great Buddha of Nara. Founded during the Nara period under the auspices of Emperor Shomu, the Daibutsu-den was completed in 751. The consecration ceremony for the Daibutsu was held the following year. Popular attractions include the Daibutsu-den, which is one of the largest wooden structures in the world, and the Nigatsu-do, a national treasure. Todaiji Temple is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara.
Nara Park is a park located in Nara City, Nara Prefecture. It is famously known for the numerous deer that roam its vicinity. The exact boundaries of Nara Park can vary depending on the definition, but it may encompass sites such as Todai-ji, Kofuku-ji, Kasuga Taisha, the Nara National Museum, Wakakusa-yama, and the Kasugayama Primeval Forest. Generally, the surrounding temples and shrines are also referred to as part of Nara Park.
Kasuga Taisha is a shrine located in Nara City, Nara Prefecture, and is the head shrine of approximately 1,000 Kasuga Shrines nationwide. It was founded in 768 AD during the Nara period, by the Fujiwara clan, by the imperial command of Empress Shōtoku, to pray for the protection of the Heijo-kyo capital and the prosperity of its citizens. Around 3,000 lanterns, donated since the Heian period, can be seen along the shrine's approach and around the main hall's corridors. Kasuga Taisha is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara.
Horyuji Temple is the head temple of the Shotoku Sect located in Ikaruga Town, Ikoma District, Nara Prefecture. It was founded by Emperor Suiko and Prince Shotoku in 607. Although it was once destroyed by fire, it was rebuilt about 1300 years ago and is now the world's oldest existing wooden architecture group. Horyuji Temple, along with Himeji Castle, were the first sites in Japan to be registered as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Yakushiji is a temple located in Nara City, Nara Prefecture, and is the head temple of the Hosso sect. Within the temple grounds, there are two three-story pagodas, one of which, the Toto, is an extremely valuable historical structure that has remained since the temple's founding. Additionally, the National Treasure of the Yakushi Triad enshrined in the Kondo is said to be one of the finest masterpieces among Buddha statues from the Hakuho period.
Isuien Garden is a serene and picturesque Japanese landscape garden in Nara, offering a tranquil retreat from the city's hustle and bustle. Featuring two distinct garden areas connected by a small museum, it showcases the beauty of traditional Japanese garden design. Visitors can enjoy meandering paths, a central pond, and perfectly arranged plants and rocks, all framed by the stunning backdrop of Mount Wakakusa and Todaiji Temple.
Toshodai-ji is a temple located in Nara City, Nara Prefecture, which was established by Jianzhen, a high-ranking monk from the Tang dynasty. The temple features valuable buildings from the Nara period, such as the Kondo and Lecture Hall, and houses many Buddha statues designated as National Treasures. The temple also cherishes lotus flowers, and you can witness the beautiful sight of lotus blooms from the rainy season to summer.
Hasedera Temple is located halfway up the hill of Mount Hatsuseyama in Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture. Known for the seasonal flowers such as peonies in spring, hydrangeas during the rainy season, and autumn leaves in the fall, it attracts many tourists. There is a staircase called Noborirou with 399 steps, and at the top, you can find a national treasure, the Main Hall. From the stage of the Main Hall, you can enjoy a breathtaking view.
Heijo Palace Historical Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Nara, Japan, showcasing the remains of the ancient Heijo Palace, which served as the imperial residence and political center during the Nara period (710-784 AD). Visitors can explore the vast, serene park, admire the reconstructed palace buildings, and learn about Japan's early history through informative exhibits and guided tours. The park offers a unique glimpse into the country's past, with its well-preserved archaeological sites and striking architecture.
Asuka-dera Temple, also known as Hoko-ji, is one of Japan's oldest Buddhist temples, featuring a remarkable Asuka Great Buddha statue. The temple showcases the Asuka Period's architectural style, providing visitors with a glimpse into ancient Japanese history. Surrounded by serene gardens and lush greenery, Asuka-dera is a peaceful and captivating destination for history and culture enthusiasts.
Naramachi is a charming, historic district in Nara, known for its well-preserved traditional atmosphere and narrow streets lined with merchant houses. Visitors can explore small museums, local craft shops, and cafes while experiencing authentic Japanese culture. The area provides a delightful glimpse into the city's past, making it a must-visit destination for history and architecture enthusiasts.
Kofuku-ji is a temple located in Nara City, Nara Prefecture, and is the head temple of the Hosso sect. Its origin traces back to a temple known as Yamashina-ji, which was constructed in Kyoto. In 710, during the relocation of the capital to Heijo-kyo, it was moved to its current location and renamed Kofuku-ji. It houses Japan's second tallest wooden pagoda, a five-story tower. Moreover, in 2018, the central facility known as the Central Golden Hall was reconstructed for the first time in 301 years. Kofuku-ji is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara.
Yoshino Mountain offers breathtaking cherry blossom views in spring, with thousands of trees creating a stunning pink paradise. The area is rich in history and spiritual significance, housing ancient temples and shrines. Hiking trails provide visitors with a serene experience amidst lush forests and scenic landscapes.
Nara National Museum, located in the heart of Nara Park, showcases an extensive collection of Japanese art, including Buddhist sculptures, paintings, and calligraphy. The museum is renowned for its elegant architecture and tranquil garden, offering a peaceful environment for visitors. It is an ideal destination for art and history enthusiasts to immerse themselves in Japan's rich cultural heritage.
Tanise Suspension Bridge, located in Nara Prefecture, Japan, is a thrilling attraction offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and Totsukawa River below. The 297-meter-long wooden bridge, suspended 54 meters above the river, provides a unique and exhilarating walking experience. Visitors can enjoy the stunning scenery, lush greenery, and nearby hot springs, making it a perfect destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
Muro-ji Temple is a serene, mountain-top sanctuary surrounded by lush forests, offering visitors a peaceful retreat from daily life. Rich in history and architecture, its ancient wooden structures, including the five-story pagoda, provide a glimpse into Japan's spiritual past. Seasonal beauty, such as vibrant autumn foliage and blooming cherry blossoms, further enhance the temple's enchanting atmosphere.
Soni Plateau in Nara Prefecture offers a captivating tourist experience with its expansive and picturesque grasslands, providing a serene setting for relaxation and leisurely walks. Spring brings a vibrant display of wildflowers, while autumn paints the meadows in golden hues, creating a breathtaking landscape.
Ishibutai Kofun is an intriguing historical site, featuring the largest known megalithic tomb in Japan, which dates back to the 7th century. Visitors can marvel at the impressive stone structure and learn about the ancient Kofun period through well-preserved artifacts and burial mounds. The site's tranquil atmosphere, surrounded by lush greenery, offers a fascinating glimpse into Japan's rich past and architectural ingenuity.
Thank you for reading to the end.
( Written by Tatsuo Ikura )