Nara Day Trip | Kofuku-ji Temple | Nara Park | Todaiji Temple | Wakakusa Yamadori | Kasuga Grand Shrine

Nara Day Trip | Itinerary & Transportation

Nara is a very good place to organize a day trip near Osaka, and it takes only 37 minutes by Kintetsu train from Osaka Namba Station to Nara. This trip started from Kintetsu Nara Station, first stop was Kofuku-ji Temple, then Nara Park to see the deer, then walk to Todai-ji Temple, from Todai-ji Temple to Kasuga Taisha Shrine via Wakakakusan-do, and finally back to the neighborhood of Kintetsu Nara Station to buy Nara snacks. It's not a long walk, so you can take in all the sights. Although you can basically walk around Nara, you can buy a Kintetsu one-day pass or a bus pass to take Nara city buses.

Nara Attractions | Kofuku-ji Temple

After getting off the train at Kintetsu Station, walk to the first stop atKofuku-ji Temple. Kofuku-ji Temple is a World Heritage Site, and its most famous pagoda, the Gokuji Pagoda, is 50 meters high, making it the second tallest pagoda in Japan, after the Gokuji Pagoda in Kyoto. The present five-storied pagoda was first built in 730 A.D. and later rebuilt in 1426 A.D. The pagoda is the second tallest in Japan after the Kyoto Five-Storied Pagoda. In ancient Japan, religious temples were inextricably linked to political power. In the Nara period, Kofuku-ji Temple, under the patronage of the Emperor and the Fujiwara clan, became so wealthy that it once surpassed Kasuga Taisha and became the center of rule in the Yamato Kingdom. The main structure next to the five-storied pagoda is the Togendo, which was under reconstruction when we visited in 2018, along with the National Treasure Hall. The dome to the north is the National Treasure Hall, and the current tower was built in 1210 and houses statues of gods and goddesses that are historical artifacts from the 8th century, the work of Yunkei, a master sculptor from the Kamakura period.

Nara Attractions | Nara Park

Nara Park is best known for its approximately 1,200 deer. Why are there so many deer? It is said that these deer are the messengers of God. The story begins in 710 A.D. According to legend, when the capital was moved to Nara, the guardian god of the Fujiwara clan, Takeshi Ungatumi, moved to Kasuga Taisha on a white deer, and the deer have been bred from generation to generation, and now they are all free and wild deer. Feeding the deer with corkscrews is a popular activity in Nara Park, and the deer are very accustomed to the visitors who feed them, and sometimes they may even bite when they are impatient.

You can see deer all the way to Todaiji Temple. The deer here are not afraid of people, and we saw a herd of them running after people.

Nara Attractions | Todaiji Temple

Tōdaiji Temple was built by Emperor Shōmu during the heyday of Buddhism in Japan, originally in 728 A.D. When it was first built, it was called Konjōji Temple to support the then Crown Prince, and in 741 Emperor Shōmu built 68 Kokubunji Temples throughout the country based on his beliefs in the protection of the country, and now Tōdaiji Temple was renamed Konkōmyōji Temple as the head temple and renamed Tōdaiji Temple when it began to build a large Buddha in 745, which is a nearly 1,300 year old history.

The South Main Gate is where the Daewaji Temple plaque hangs, and its majesty can be seen from the entrance. Todaiji Temple is also one of the World Heritage Sites.

The main hall of the Tōdaiji Temple is the largest wooden building in the world and houses the famous statue of the Buddha. The temple was destroyed during the war, and the current hall was rebuilt in 1709. It took 25 years to rebuild the temple, eight years just to recast the statue, and it is said to be only two-thirds of its original size, but it still retains the integrity of the Tang Dynasty style.

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The architecture, sculptures and other artifacts in Todaiji Temple occupy an important place in the history of Japanese art.

Nara Viewpoint | Wakakusa Yamadori

From Todaiji Temple to Teshigoyama Shrine, after passing the Teshigoyama Shrine Torii, you will reach the Wakakusayamadori Road, which is a good place for cherry blossom viewing, with fewer crowds and a sense of tranquility. The road passes by the February and March halls.

Tekoyama Hachimangu Shrine

Across the street from the March Hall is the Teshigoyama Hachimangu Shrine, an old building from the Kamakura period.

After passing the Hachimangu Shrine, a few small stores appeared. As usual, there were only a couple of tourists here, so it was a nice atmosphere on a winter afternoon. There were more deer than people, so we walked by quietly, not wanting to disturb them.

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Passing through the back of the famous Nara Park, there is a whole open park behind. There is a staircase leading up to the entrance of the mountain.

Mizutani Tea House

The famous Mizutani Tea House has a beautiful view in summer and fall.

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Mizutani Shrine

Mizutani Shrine is a small shrine, and it is said that praying for the removal of ailments is very effective.

One Word Lord Shrine

Ichimoku Shrine is a shrine from the Heian Period, where wishes were fulfilled with a single word.

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Nara Viewpoint | Kasuga Grand Shrine

Kasuga Taisha Shrine, an important tourist attraction in Nara and one of the World Heritage Sites, was built in 710 AD. Kasuga Taisha Shrine was built in 710 A.D. When the capital of Nara was built, it was the site of a national festival for the god Takewon Hajime, and later, by the Emperor's order, for the god Keitsu Jomei, the ancestor god Tengoya Nematsu and the god of the hibachi, who were all honored deities. Since the Kamakura period, it has been dismantled and rebuilt every 20 years under a system called "Shonen Shoji", so it remains intact as it was in the Heian period.

Kasuga Taisha Shrine has four main shrines dedicated to the four main deities, so there are four shrines in the main hall.

Cloister Lantern

The Lantern Cloister is a famous sight in Kasuga Taisha Shrine. Kasuga Taisha Shrine has a history of more than 800 years of worshipers offering lanterns for blessings. There are 3,000 lanterns, including stone lanterns and hanging lanterns, from the Sengoku era to the present day, and they are lit up only on the day before the spring equinox and on two consecutive days of the Mid-Yuan Festival every year, which is known as the "Ten Thousand Lanterns".

Fujinami no Yakata

If you want to see the lanterns lit up during non-festival days, you can only do so at Fujinonoya. The place is deliberately surrounded by a black cloth, and the lanterns inside are lit up so that we can feel the atmosphere of lanterns during the daytime on weekdays.

Kasuga Taisha Omotesando

Omotesando Road, with its magnificent stone lanterns, is a famous sight of Kasuga Taisha Shrine, and most visitors enter Kasuga Taisha Shrine from Omotesando Road. We originally came from the direction of Todaiji Temple and walked into the Kasuga Shrine area from the quiet Wakakusa Mountain Road. Unlike most tourists, we left from the south gate and walked up the Omotesando Road.

Strolling through verdant jungles and rustic stone lanterns, the Omotesando Road allows visitors to immerse themselves in the ancient charm of Nara.

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