Japan’s first permanent capital is easily accessed from Osaka and Kyoto. The city remains full of historic treasures, including some of Japan’s oldest and largest temples.
Japan’s first permanent capital was established in 710 at Nara. The capital was moved to a new location, Nagaoka in 784, and a few years later to Kyoto. The magnificent Great Buddha, historical important treasures, and the famously tame deer in a large grassy park draw many visitors from the world.
The three major festivals in Nara
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Mt. Yoshino for the most spectacular cherry blossoms. Grass-covered Nara Park is nice to stroll around. You may see lovely fawn.
Summer is rich in natural beauty. If you want to beat the heat, head down to Mt. Yoshino area where the summer temperatures average around 26 C. Check out the many summer festivals as well.
Autumn is the best season to visit mountain temples such as Ono-Ji and Hase-dera known for their beautiful autumn foliage. Isui-en garden along with Nara Park is also good.
Winter in Nara is quiet, with fewer tourists and snow on the upper mountains. You can often see mountain temples such as Murou-ji Temple with a light dusting of snow on cool winter days.
Local Specialties of Nara
Almost all of the tea whisks in Japan are produced in Nara. These tea whisks vary in shape, bamboo type and design details depending on their usage and the tea ceremony school.
Kakinoha sushi is made with vegetables and cooked or cured fish placed on sushi rice, wrapped in a persimmon leaf.
Nara-style traditional pickled vegetables that are soaked in sake lees. In 650, during the Nara Period, Buddhist priests returning to Nara from China began pickling a white melon in sake lees.
Getting to Nara
You can reach Nara easily from either Osaka or Kyoto. The nearest airports are Itami International Airport and Kansai International Airport, both located in Osaka, approximately an hour and 15 minutes by bus and train.
The main sight, Nara Park is accessible from both Kintetsu Nara station and JR Nara station.