The "Dragon's Palace on Land" is found there. The largest 8th century structure in the entire country.
The region in the western part of Nara City is called Nishi-no-kyo, which literally means the Western Capital, as it was located to the west of the ancient capital city, Heijo-kyo Palace. There are large-scale temples in the region which were built in the Tempyo Period of the 8th century, such as Toshodai-ji, Yakushi-ji and Saidai-ji temples.
Toshodai-ji Temple was built by the Chinese priest Ganjin, who was invited to Japan by the Emperor Shomu in the 8th century. Ganjin attempted difficult journeys resulting in failure several times, but finally arrived in Japan after 12 years. The temple consists of the Kon-do Hall, which is the largest 8th century structure that exists in the country, a lecture hall, a treasure hall, and Ko-ro (bell tower), which have all been well preserved in their original style and details to tell us about the culture of that age.
Yakushi-ji Temple, adjoining Toshodai-ji, is the temple founded by the Emperor Tenmu in the 8th century to pray for the Empress' recovery from illness. The magnificently decorated temple buildings, known as Garan, were at one time called "the Dragon's Palace on Land." To-to (east tower) in the precincts is the original structure, which has been preserved ever since its foundation and is the symbol of Nishi-no-kyo.
On the east side of Nishi-no-kyo Station is the Tenement House of Stubborn (GANKO) Craftsman. Here craftspeople utilize their cultivated skills to produce, display and sell their traditional crafts. You can also try making "Nara-sumi" (ink) there, which is a specialty of Nara.
Saidai-ji Temple, founded in the late 8th century, boasted of a vast scale until several fires left only the Hon-do and Aizen-do halls remaining. A 4-kilometer-long route called Rekishi-no-michi, or the path of history, is a perfect road to stroll from Saidai-ji to Yakushi-ji Temple.
[Rail] 2h 15 min to Kyoto Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line (Nozomi), and 30 min from Kyoto to Yamato-Saidai-ji Station by Kintetsu Kyoto Line (limited express). 4 min from Yamato-Saidai-ji Station to Kintetsu Nishi-no-kyo Station by Kintetsu Kashihara Line.
*It takes 2h 45 min from Tokyo to Kyoto Station by Hikari Shinkansen.
[Rail] 30 min from Kintetsu Namba to Yamato-Saidai-ji Station by Kintetsu Nara Line (rapid express).