Large temple roofs and pagoda towers peek through the trees. A 15-meter-tall Buddha housed in the world's largest wooden building.
Nara Park is located in the center of the city of Nara, extending about 4 kilometers from east to west, and about 2 kilometers from south to north. Many deer graze along the spacious lawns and frolic on the grass. Inside the park area are Todai-ji Temple, Kasuga Taisha Shrine and many other historic structures that represent the glory of the city over many centuries. Small streams and ponds add charm to the scenery. The image of great temple roofs and the tips of tall pagodas peeking through the trees will be an unforgettable memory of your journey to Nara. Throughout the year the stream of visitors to Nara is never interrupted.
In 728, the Emperor Shomu, who placed great importance upon Buddhism, founded Todai-ji Temple, now inscribed as a World Cultural Heritage Site. It is a head temple, ruling the other 68 Kokubun-ji temples (branch temples) scattered throughout the country, and it is said that it was called "Himugashi-no-Odera," or "large temple in the east," because it was located to the east of the then-capital, Heijo-kyo.
Daibutsu-den (Great Buddha Hall) is 57 meters long and 50 meters wide, making it the world's largest wooden structure. The hall enshrines a huge statue of the great Buddha. Weighing approximately 300 tons and standing some 15 meters tall, it is the largest Buddha statue in the world.
The precincts of the temple offer many interesting spots for tourists including: the Nan-dai-mon (the Great Southern Gate), on which you can see two images of Kongo Rikishi (Buddhist guardians) which are over 8 meters tall; the Nigatsu-do Hall, which is surrounded by a stage-like corridor overlooking the Daibutsu-den and the city of Nara; and the Sangatsu-do Hall, the oldest wooden structure standing in the Todai-ji Temple precincts, in which you can see artistic sculptures from the 8th century.
The trek to the top of Mt. Wakakusa-yama, at 342 meters above sea level, is a good form of exercise that you can easily enjoy inside the city. From the hilltop you will be treated to a magnificent panoramic view of the Nara Basin. The night view is also beautiful and has been rated as one of the best three beautiful night views in Japan, newly selected by NPO in 2003.
Another major attraction inside the park is Kofuku-ji, a temple built in the early 8th century by the Fujiwara clan, a powerful family of the time. The precincts were expanded as the Fujiwaras became more dominant, and at their peak, it is said to have been 13 times larger than it is today (now 4 square kilometers).
The approximately 50-meter-high five-story pagoda of Kofuku-ji Temple is the second tallest old tower in Japan, after the pagoda of To-ji Temple in Kyoto City.
The pagoda has caught fire six times in the long history since its foundation. The present pagoda is registered as a national treasure and was rebuilt in 1426. The Tokon-do Hall adjoining the pagoda has also been registered as a national treasure, its architecture dating back to the early 15th century. Inside the hall are a bronze statue of Yakushi-nyorai, as well as a sitting statue of Monju-bosatsu, the Buddhist god of wisdom and intellect. Thus, there are numerous visitors who go there to pray for academic achievement. The Kokuho-kan (national treasure hall), which displays a variety of the cultural assets at Kofuku-ji Temple such as the 8th century sculptures, is another place that visitors should not miss.
The Sarusawa-ike Pond, located at Kofuku-ji Temple, is where captured fish were released. Surrounded by willow trees, if you walk around the 360-meter promenade circling the pond you will see many carp swimming in the pond and tortoises drying their backs. When you look at Kofuku-ji Temple over the pond, you will also see rich, green trees with the pagoda tower standing behind them, a water fountain in the pond, and an elegant reflection of the pagoda on the surface of the water, said to be one of the best sights in Nara.
From Osaka(Kansai Airport):
[Rail] 1h 25 min from Kansai Airport to Nara Station by Airport Limousine Bus.
35 min from Namba to Nara Station by Kintetsu Nara Line (regular express).
[Rail] 35 min from Kintetsu Namba to Kintetsu Nara Station by Kintetsu Nara Line (rapid express).
[Rail] 2h 15 min to Kyoto Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line (Nozomi), and 35 min from Kyoto to Kintetsu Nara Station by Kintetsu Kyoto Line (limited express).
*It takes 2h 45 min from Tokyo to Kyoto Station by Hikari Shinkansen.
Around the Nara Park Area
- Nara City Information Center Tourist Information Offices Nara City Information Center
- NARA PREFECTUAL TOURIST INFORMATION CENTER Tourist Information Offices NARA PREFECTUAL TOURIST INFORMATION CENTER
- Nara City Tourist Information Center Tourist Information Offices Nara City Tourist Information Center
- Nara City Tourist Information Office Kintetsu Nara Station Tourist Information Offices Nara City Tourist Information Office Kintetsu Nara Station
- Nara National Museum Museums Nara National Museum
- Omizutori Festivals & Ceremonies Omizutori
- Takigi O-Noh (Nara) Festivals & Ceremonies Takigi O-Noh (Nara)
- Yamayaki Festivals & Ceremonies Yamayaki
- Naracalligraphy brushes Naracalligraphy brushes
- Todai-ji Temple Shrines, Temples & Churches Todai-ji Temple
- Nara Kenritsu Bijutsukan (Art Museum) Museums Nara Kenritsu Bijutsukan (Art Museum)
More on the Nara Park Area
- Nara City Sightseeing Information Center Nara City Sightseeing Information Center
- Nara Prefecture Nara Prefecture
- Nara Walks Nara Walks
- World Heritage Site in Japan:The Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara World Heritage Site in Japan:The Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara
- Nippon – a country of trees and forests Nippon – a country of trees and forests