Any stay in Japan should most certainly include a visit to the ancient capital known as Nara. Prior to Tokyo, the city of Kyoto was the capital of Japan, and prior to Kyoto, the nearby city of Nara was the spectacular capital of the country.
It has thankfully been preserved really well and its wooden buildings have been restored again and again over the centuries to ensure that it retains much of the splendor of when it was the center of Japanese society. It is an amazingly beautiful and historical area full of ancient wonders both natural and human-made. The temples are some of the most spectacular and nature among the most unique in the country.
Here are some of the highlights of Nara that you will certainly want to visit on any adventure in this glorious and ancient capital.
One of the first things you may notice in Nara is the abundance of adorable deer roaming around freely in various areas of the city. They are tame and will quickly make friends with anyone offering to feed them the biscuits being sold by various shops and vendors. Do be careful with any edibles you may be carrying, including magazines and guidebooks, as they too may become food for friendly deer.
The deer are truly one of the real gems of Nara and are a testament to the magic of this wonderful city. This is the kind of mystical décor that can’t be artificially planned and there are many moments in Nara where a deer gracing an ancient forest temple in a misty morning light offers the kind of cinematic experience that is far beyond words.
Nara Koen is an ancient forest park and is one of the best places to see the legendary deer of Nara. There are many shrines and temples in this area and the forest is truly wonderful to stroll through for hours.
There are photo opportunities all around and the balance of nature and ancient human shrines makes for a remarkably unique landscape.
If you are looking for an amazing temple with massive and spectacular statues, you likely need to look no further than Todaiji in Nara. This temple is the largest wooden structure in the country and is rather flooring to see in person. One wonders, as in many areas of Japan, how such a place is possible in the modern world today.
It is as if stepping into a movie set in ancient Japan. The massive wooden building houses the country’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha and is rumored to be the largest in the world. As if one massive statue of Buddha were not spectacular enough, this statue is flanked on either side by two additional massive golden statues.
It goes without saying that this is one temple you must definitely visit in the Nara area!
Have fun in Nara and enjoy the many temples and natural wonders it has to share!