May 18, 2022

Japan Travel Guide: Nara

Ahead of Japan 2020, we’re taking a look at various elements of Japanese life and culture, along with travel tips, for those planning the trip of a lifetime to the Land of the Rising Sun.

Nara is one of the country’s most rewarding destinations for tourists and locals alike. With eight sites classified as World Heritage by Unesco, it is second after Kyoto as the repository of Japan’s cultural heritage. Being the first permanent capital of Japan from 710 to 784, most of the historical buildings date back to this long.

Nara is also compact: it is quite possible to group the highlights into a full day. Many people visit Nara as a detour from Kyoto or Osaka, as it can be reached in an hour by train from there.

One of the most impressive sites in Nara is the enormous Todai-ji Temple, which dates back to the 8th century. It is not only the tallest wooden building in the world, but it is also home to the Great Buddha Daibutsu. This statue is 16.2m tall, weighs 452 tons and is the largest bronze statue in the world.
A highlight is the annual cleaning of the monument by the monks on August 7.

If you are looking for inspiration, you can try squeezing through a hole in one of the columns behind the Buddha the size of his nostril. According to legend, whoever succeeds in doing so can hope for enlightenment in the next life. However, the average Western tourist should remember that her dress size is usually twice that of the Japanese.

What really attracts tourists and what should not be missed however is Narak? En, a park that allows for a relaxed stroll amid greenery and tame deer.

The white spotted deer is called Shika. More than a thousand of them live in the very center of Nara. Considered the holy messengers of the gods in Shintoism (a religion related to Buddhism but only practiced in Japan), they are welcome.

In addition to having the status of a national sanctuary, animals are above all one thing: gluttons.

In order to get one of the coveted deer cookies called Shika-Sembei (you can buy some on the way to the temple), some of them came up with a special form of begging: they bow as appropriate for the real ones. Japanese. .

And if that doesn’t help or the cookies aren’t delivered quickly enough, you can watch tourists run away from the greedy deer or have their shirts munched on.

When it comes to dining, Japan is a culinary delight, with Nara having its own unique blend of local cuisine. Take the time to visit the main tourist street, running from the train station to the Todai-ji temple complex, to discover fantastic restaurants with dishes whose names would take a lifetime to learn, and a balanced taste taking just as long to take in. to forget.

Nara is a must-see for any traveler in the Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto areas. Remember to be polite and feed the deer.

More details about the Japan Tourism Board: