Things to do in Nara
Things to do in Nara
Kasuga Taisha is one of Nara’s most famous shrine. It was built around the same time that the capital was established and the shrine is dedicated to the deity that is said to be responsible for protecting Nara city. The Fujiwara clan, which was one of the most powerful family during the Nara and Heian period, also saw the Kasuga Taisha as the shrine that protected their family. The Kasuga Taisha shrine has an offering hall in which is free for anyone to visit and then there is also an inner area of the shrine where you can get a closer look at the inner buildings in the shrine and this area requires a fee. The main sanctuary which is located further inside, contains multiple shrine buildings in which it’s architecture has a distinctive Kasuga style. Kasuga Taisha is most well knows for its lanterns. The lanterns can be found all over the shrine and it is said to be donated by the Kasuga Taisha shrine worshipers. Although these bronze lanterns are hung from all over the buildings, these lanterns are only lit twice a year. The two times that the lanterns are actually lit are during the two lantern festivals that take place at this shrine. Right near the main complex of the shrine, visitors can enjoy a stroll in the Kasuga Taisha Shinen Manyo Botanical Garden. There are over 250 different types of plants that are planted in this garden which are all plants that are described in the Manyoshu, which is one of Japan”s oldest book of poems which is believed to be dated back all the way to the Nara Period. The grounds of the shrine also have a Kasuga Taisha Museum, which has some of the most famous relics of the shrine displayed. You can access the Kasuga Taisha from the east side of Nara Park and is about a thirty minute walk from the Kintetsu Nara station or a fourty five minute walk from the Nara JR station.
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Todaiji is a famous Buddhist temple located in the city of Nara. This temple was once included as a part of the Seven Great Temples of Nara, Japan. The Hall of this temple houses the largest bronze Buddha statue in the world. The Todaiji temple is also famously known for being the headquarters of the Kegon Buddhism school and is even listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is listed for being one of the most historically monumental place from Ancient Nara and is one of the seven sites in Nara that are listed as World Heritage Sites. People who visit will see Deers roaming around the temple grounds. Deers from a very long time ago have been said to be messengers of the gods. In the Daibutsuden Hall, there is a pillar that has a hole in the base of the pillar that is about the same size as the nostril of the Daibutsu. It is believed that anyone who is able to get through this whole will be enlightened in their next life. The Todaiji ground is quite large and covers most of the northern section of the Nara Park. The grounds include a number of smaller temple halls and there is also a Todaiji Museum. Before 2011, the museum was not open to the public, however, it was opened to the public in 2011. There are a bunch of religious arts and cultural treasures displayed at the museum. The grounds also has the Nigatsudo Hall which offers a beautiful view of the city. The hall is also the location where the Omizutori ceremonies are held every year in March. The Hokkedo Hall, which can also be found on grounds of Todaiji, is one of the oldest surviving building on the grounds. This building is the house of a Kannon statue which is surrounded by Buddhist guardians. Kaidanin Temple is a temple that originally dates back to the 8th century when it was named as the most important ordination hall in Japan. Today, it houses the statues of the four heavenly kings. The Shosoin Storehouse is use to store the relics of the Todaiji Temple and the Imperial Family. These treasures can only be viewed by the public from the outside.
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Nara park, located in the city of Nara, Japan, is a public park that was established in the 1300s and is known for being one of the oldest parks in Japan. It is said that there are over 1,000 wild deers that roam freely around the park. The deers are classified as being one of Nara”s natural treasure. The Nara park grounds includes many famous areas including the Todaiji Temple, the Kofukuji Temple, and the Kasuga Shrine. There are also a few gardens on the park grounds that were previously private but now open to the public. According to the old local folklore, the deers from this area were considered sacred after Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto visited. He was one of the four gods of Kasuga shrine. After he was invited to visit the Kashima Shrine he was seen riding a white dear up on Mount Mikasa. From that point, deers were considered divine beings by the Kasuga Shrine and Kofukuji Temple. However, after World War II ended, deers were officially stripped of their divine status and were instead names as being national treasures.
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The Horyuji Temple is a Buddhist temple that was once a part of the Seven Great Temples in Nara. The full name of this temple which is Horyu Gakumonji can be translated into English as the Learning Temple of the Flourishing Law which serves as a seminary and a monastery. The Horyu-ji temple pagoda is known for being one of the oldest existing wooden building in the world. Horyu-ji in 1993, was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is also listed as a National Treasure by the Japanese government. Horyu-ji was dedicated to Yakushi Nyorai, known as the Buddha of healing and was dedicated in honor of the father of the Prince. In 1939 it was confirmed that the Prince Shotoku’s palace was a part of the eastern side of the current temple grounds.
The Kofun are large tombs that have a distinct keyhole-shaped mound which was constructed sometime between the early 3rd century and the early 7th century. This shape is very unique and can be dated back to ancient Japan. The Mozu-Furuichi kofun has been named as a UNESCO World heritage spot. And the most well-known Kofun is the Daisen Kofun, located on the Osaka Prefecture, is one of the largest kofuns. It is assumed that the Kofun has changed into various shapes throughout history. The most common type of Kofun is the keyhole shaped kofun. There are circular types and square types of kofun as well. All the kofuns vary in size but the largest one is the one that was built for the Emperor Nintoku, which is the Daisen Kofun located in Osaka.
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Behind Nara park, there is a grass covered mountain called Mount Wakakusayama which is located between the Kasuga shrine and Todaiji Temple. From here, you can get a beautiful view of Nara city. Anyone can climb up this Mountain all year round except for during the winter time. There are cherry blossom trees that are planted all up the mountain and are fully bloomed during April. On the 4th of January every year, the Mountain slopes are burned during the Wakakusa Yamayaki. The origin of this is not very clear, however, there are some that say that it is burned as a boundary dispute or that it was burned to drive away dangerous wild boars.
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