Top 10 Tourist Attractions & Best Things to Do in Nara, Japan

Nara seems to be in the shade of Kyoto and many people tend to have the inconspicuous image towards Nara. However, it is a historical town which used to be a capital of Japan once in the past. There are a lot of sightseeing spots and the town is always bustling with many visitors. Let’s start with a place engulfed in nature!


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1. Mitarai Gorge

1. Mitarai Gorge
photo by kingstftrap   /   embedded from Instagram

The Mitarai Gorge is the gorge through which the crystal clear water is streaming along the valley with various sizes of rock piled up against each other. It is said that this is the most spectacular gorge scenery in the Kinki province. Many visitors come and enjoy the beautiful nature every day.

The Gorge changes its appearance depending on the season and each season the scenery is attractive. Especially during the changing colors season, it is beyond description.

There is a promenade along the side of the stream to enjoy strolling around the Gorge, viewing the wonderful scenery. I hope you can enjoy the time which passes slowly in Nara. Even if you are a quick person, you’ll slow down naturally to enjoy this peaceful environment.

■Information
Name: Mitarai Gorge
Address: Kitomiz,u Tenkawa-mura, Yoshino-gun, Nara Prefecture
Access: a 90-minute-drive in a car from the Katsuragi IC

2. Ishibutai Kofun

2. Ishibutai Kofun

In Nara where once the capital was established, various precious historical ruins were found. This Ishibutai Kofun is the ancient tomb with the largest passage grave in Japan which represents the Asuka-era (592-710).

It is the tomb for Sogano-umako who was a great power in the Aska-era. At that time, it was the largest scale tomb and I can’t hide my astonishment wondering about the technique of carrying those gigantic rocks.

You can experience Japanese history and traditional culture which were handed down from generation to generation over 1,000 years. It is a famous sightseeing spot just like the ancient capital, Nara. The tomb really is melted into the natural scenery, believe me.

■Information
Name: Ishibutai Kofun
Address: Shimanosho, Asuka-mura, Takaichi City, Nara Prefecture
Access: a 30-minute-ride on a bus from the Sakakibara-shrine-mae station bound for the Asuka station / a 3-minute-walk from the Ishibutai bus-stop

3. Yakushi-ji Temple

3. Yakushi-ji Temple

The Yakushi-ji Temple was established by the Emperor Tenmu more than 1,000 years ago. The Temple is dedicated to the Yakushi-nyorai (the principal image of Buddha).

The Temple has many buildings which have been appointed as a national treasure, starting with the Yakushi-nyorai with 2 saints. It is worth visiting. The Yakushi-nyorai is a Buddha who is able to cure all illnesses, it’s said.

The Yakushi-nyorai is of course worth seeing, but the Yakushi-ji(temple) itself has been registered at the UNESCO World Heritage, as one of the cultural assets of the ancient capital, Nara. You can’t miss visiting this place, as it is a very precious Japanese asset.

■Information
Name: Yakushi-ji Temple
Address: 457, Nishi-no-kyo-machi, Nara City, Nara Prefecture
Access: just there from the Nishi-no-kyo-machi station
Website: http://www.nara-yakushiji.com/

4. Mt. Wakakusa

4. Mt. Wakakusa

Mt. Wakakusa next to the Nara Park is famous for its appearance from quite a distance. It looks as if it is wearing 3 hats, so that it is called Mt. Mikasa in another name.

As the entire mountain is covered with grasses, it is the relaxing place for the locals as well as visitors. You can often come across deer which represent Nara here and there on the mountain.

You can see clear across the Nara-city from the observation deck on the top of the mountain. The beautiful scenery of the Nara-city is not only a delight in the daytime but also at night. The twinkling night-view pleases young couples especially.

■Information
Name: Mt. Wakakusa
Address: Nara City, Nara Prefecture
Admission fee:
[Junior high school student and over]: 150yen
[3 years of and over]: 80yen
Access: a 30-minute-walk from the Nara station on the Kintetsu-line
Website: http://nara-park.com/

5. Nara Park

5. Nara Park

In the Nara Park, more than 1,200 deer which are protected by law as a rare species inhabit there. The abundant nature is also one of the representative sightseeing spots of Nara. When you visit Nara, those deer will welcome you!

On the site of the Nara Park, there are historically precious temples and ruins apart from many deer. You can enjoy yourself there all day long. The Todai-ji(temple) which is famous for the big Buddha is next to this park.

■Information
Name: Nara Park
Address: Nara City, Nara Prefecture
Admission fee:
[Junior high school student and over]: 150yen
[3 years old and over]: 80yen
Access: a 5-minute-walk from the Nara station on the Kintetsu-line
Website: http://nara-park.com/

 
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6. Tanize Suspension Bridge

6. Tanize Suspension Bridge
photo by 01misaki13   /   embedded from Instagram

The Tanize Suspension Bridge is across the River Totsu in the Totsugawa Village and it is the longest suspension bridge in Japan. It has a 297m length and is 54m in height. It was constructed as a use for living. It is really full of thrills! It is supposed to carry less than 5 people at a time.

When you walk on it, you can realize that the width of the bridge is only 80cm and the bridge shakes at each one of your steps. You may be breathless and tremble from fear!

You can enjoy the feeling of strolling up into the sky and the existence of yourself in the thrilling situation at the same time. Don’t forget, if you go to the other side, you have to come back by the bridge once again.

■Information
Name: Tanize Suspension Bridge
Address: Uenoji, Totsukawa-mura, Yoshino-gun, Nara Prefecture
Access: a 90-minute-ride in a car from the Katsuragi IC

7. Doro-kyo

7. Doro-kyo
photo by rico_arrs   /   embedded from Instagram

Doro-kyo has been appointed as the National Special Scenic Beauty Natural Monument and it is a canyon which stretches not only through the Nara prefecture but also over the Mie and the Wakayama prefectures. It is just the right place for people who want to enjoy the beauty of the nature of the Nara prefecture to the full.

The large rocks as well as some unusually shaped rocks lay all through the gorge and they are creating the outstanding scenery together with the mountains around. Since a long time ago, people have been cherishing this area as one of the special scenic beauty.

Enjoying this scenery on the boat, going down the stream, is a time of sheer joy. You’ll never forget the deep impression, once you have experienced it. After enjoying the sightseeing in Doro-kyo, you can comfort your tired limbs from the trip in the “Sennin-buro” in the Kawayu hot-spring nearby. It’ll be like heaven in this world!

■Information
Name: Doro-kyo
Address: Totsugawa-mura, Yoshino-gun, Nara Prefecture

8. Kasuga-Taisha Shrine

8. Kasuga-Taisha Shrine

This shrine has been registered in the World Heritage as one of the ancient capital Nara’s cultural assets. It is the vintage head shrine of more than 1,000 Kasuga-shrines all over Japan. It was established to enshrine the deity of the Fujiwara clan.

The character, “Kasuga-sama” in the famous animation, “Spirited Away” produced by the Studio Ghibli is wearing the mask made of thick paper and white silk with the Kasuga- shrine’s God’s facial features drawn on it.

It is a wonderful opportunity to come in contact with Japanese vintage history and culture, so visit this Shrine on you trip to Nara. You will be amazed with its beauty.

■Information
Name: Kasuga-Taisha Shrine
Address: 160, Kasugano-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture
Ceremony fee: ¥500
Access: a 10-minute-ride in a car from the Kizu IC
Website: http://www.kasugataisha.or.jp/

9. Horyu-ji Temple

9. Horyu-ji Temple
photo by kenmaya.1ban   /   embedded from Instagram

Horyu-ji is the oldest wooden architecture in Japan. It is well-known as a temple which was associated with Shotokutaishi. It has the world famous 5 storied pagoda. This is especially popular among visitors.

It was constructed in the 7th century, but even now it has been kept to its original beautiful appearance. The oldest wooden architecture represents the ancient times when Nara was the capital of Japan. Please enjoy it with your naked eyes. You might fall in love with its dignity.

■Information
Name: Horyu-ji Temple
Address: 1-1, Yamauchi, Horyu-ji, Ikaruga-cho, Ikoma-gun, Nara Prefecture
Opening hours: 8:00 – 17:00 (until 16:30 from 4th Nov. to 21st Feb)
Admission fee:
[Adult]: 1,500yen
[Primary school pupil]: 750yen
Access: a 20-minute-walk from the Horyu-ji station
Website: http://www.horyuji.or.jp/

10. Todai-ji Temple

Todai-ji Temple

This big Buddha is the principal image of Buddha and it has been enshrined in the Todai-ji Temple. It is always crowded with a lot of visitors. It is unbelievably huge, powerful and appealing.

There is a hole on the large thick pillar near the big Buddha. The size of the hole is 37cm high, 30cm wide and 108cm deep. What do you think it is for? It is as big as the nostrils of the big Buddha and if you can go through it, one of your dreams will come true, I’ve heard.

Nara prefecture is convenient for visiting around the famous sightseeing spots, as they are concentrated in a relatively small area. So, visiting various places all at once is one of the attractions of the Nara sightseeing.

■Information
Name: Todai-ji Temple
Address: 406-1, Soshi-machi, Nara City, Nara Prefecture
Admission fee:
[Junior high school student and over]: 500yen
[Primary school pupil]: 300yen
Access: a 20-minute-walk from the Nara station on the Kintetsu-line
Website: http://www.todaiji.or.jp/

Let’s visit the best tourist attractions in Nara!

Nara, which still has the trace of the long, long history has a lot of attractive sightseeing spots. The fact that more than 1,000 years of history has been handed down and passed on from generation to generation is the highlight. When you come to Japan on holiday, please don’t miss visiting Nara!

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