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Interesting Things to Do in Nara, Japan

Here is your gateway into the mystical ancient Japanese culture.
Chaitrali Datar Jun 25, 2020
Situated in the Kansai region of Honshu, Nara is the capital city of the Nara Prefecture, Japan. It is situated in the Northern part of the prefecture and is the sixth-largest city.
Surrounded by tall hills, thick forests and farmlands, it has a treasure trove of historical buildings and art collections and is a sought after tourist destination.
Nara is basically a city of temples and shrines, however there is a lot more to it.
Explore the ancient rich temples, along with the beautiful parks and museums to easy one day trips from Nara.
Nara Park
Located in the heart of the city, Nara Park is a perfect blend of nature, history and culture. It is the largest park in Japan and includes temples and shrines.
The highlight of this park are the free roaming deer, which is a delight for the tourists.
Situated inside the Nara Park is the Todaji temple. It is also called as the Eastern Great temple and has the world's largest timber building.
Visit the Todaji Temple
Founded in the year 728 AD, it is the most magnificent temple in Japan. It is also the most important Buddhist temple, the Japanese worship.
  • The temple has the biggest Buddha Bronze statue in the world weighing over 500 tonnes.
  • It is called as the 'Statue of Daibutsu'.
  • Legend has it that its construction almost bankrupted the Japanese economy.
Visit the Horyu-Ji Temple
  • One of the oldest temples in the world, its construction dates back to 720 AD.
  • It is a must-visit as you will witness Japanese history here.
The entire layout of the temple is extremely beautiful with rich Japanese treasure and art work from thousands of years ago!
Visit the Yakushi-ji Temple
  • Founded by Empress Komyo in 747 AD, this temple has imprints of the ancient Nara culture.
  • Its name Yakushiji means the 'Healing Buddha', to whom it is dedicated.
  • It is carved out of a single piece of wood and is an important religious site.
  • It is a part of the 'Historic Monuments of the Ancient Nara' looked after by the UNESCO.
So much for temples and shrines?
Nara is also home to beautiful parks and museums, shopping and much more.....
Visit the Nara National Museum
  • The museum was built in 1895.
  • You can enjoy rich displays seeped in Japanese Art.
  • English language guides are also available.
Located in the Nara Koen Park, this museum has various exhibits of sculptures, paintings, archaeological displays of Nara period from 8th century.
Explore Nature in The Manyo Botanical Garden
  • The park has more than 150 varieties of flowers and various stone monuments.
  • It is also called as the Kauga-Taisha garden.
Visit the Isui-en Garden
  • A beautiful landscaped garden, well-known for its nature.
  • Get to experience the many tea gardens it has.
  • Do taste the Green Tea here.
Tranquility here sure is guaranteed!
A Traditional Japanese Green Tea
Visit Naramachi
It is a former Merchant district with quaint old houses and numerous cafes and restaurants.
The Ganoji Temple is the main attraction here and is even listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
You can also take various one day trips from Nara, which are accessible by trains.
Popular One-Day Trips
  • Kyoto (architecture) -1 hour train drive from Nara.
  • Osaka (shrines and castles)- 1 hour train drive from Nara.
  • Nagoya (famous port) - 2 hour train drive from Nara.
  • Himeji Castle - 2 hours drive from Nara.
  • Lake Biwa (scenery) - 1 hour train drive from Nara.
You can shop in the Higashimuki Shopping District where there will be fine dining options along with interesting souvenir shopping.
Shopping in Nara
Top Accommodations to Stay in Nara
  • Nara Hotel- Luxury guesthouse, well-trained staff.
  • Hotel Nikko Nara-mid-price ranging, next to Nara Station.
  • Super Lohas- Budget Hotel, comfortable rooms.
  • New Wakasa-Affordable, Japanese style rooms.
Tips to Make the Most of Your Trip to Nara
  • Get a Japan Rail Pass so you will be able to access unlimited connections at fixed price.
  • If possible, visit Nara in the spring, autumn and cherry blossoms season.
  • Ride to the shrines and temples on bicycles.