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<What kind of city is NARA?> Nara, where you can discover the roots of Japanese culture

Just over 1,300 years ago, Nara became the capital of Yamato—the land we now call Japan. One of the terminal points of the Silk Road, Nara at the time absorbed cultural influences from countries in Europe and Asia. Nara developed its own original culture, making it the birthplace of Japanese culture.

As Japan’s very first capital, the lifestyles of the people of Nara are rooted in a history older than even that of Kyoto. This is evident from the many historical structures designated as World Heritage Sites, the still-extant old town area, and so on.

Must-see locations in NARA

  1. 1 Heijo Palacebecame the capital of Japan just over 1,300 years ago
  2. 2 The Great Buddha of Todaiji Temple and deer considered to be messengers of the gods.
  3. 3 Yamatokoriyama, the goldfish town.
  4. 4 Omiwa Shrine, the oldest shrine in Japan.
  5. 5 In spring, the hills of Yoshino are awash with pink cherry blossoms.
  6. 6 The suspension bridge in Tanise is the longest in Japan.
  7. 7 A pilgrimage route leading to a venerated site for nature worship.

Highlights of NARA

  • The long history that comes from being Japan’s first capital city.

    Japan’s first capital wasn’t in Tokyo or Kyoto. It was situated in Nara. The lifestyles of Nara’s modern-day residents are rooted in this long history, as is evident from the city’s many historical structures and cultural assets. These include the old town area that still retains vestiges of the 1,300 years of history, and the presence of the world’s oldest wooden building, which is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    How about a slow relaxing trip in Nara away from the busy crowds of Kyoto?

  • Japanese food that you’ve never tasted before

    Japanese food isn’t all about sushi and ramen. Japanese cuisine has a long history, and the roots of many dishes can be found in Nara. The plentiful produce grown in the area is what makes Nara’s food so appealing, from the healthy vegetarian Buddhist cuisine known as Shojin Ryori, made from the area’s famous Yamato vegetables, to traditional sweets that make impressive use of natural ingredients, and sake—said to have been first brewed in Nara.

    Come visit Nara and try Japanese food you’ve never tasted before!

  • Rich natural scenery that transforms with each season

    Nara is a natural treasure-trove that can be enjoyed in different ways each season. There are mountains that have been worshipped since ancient times, the clear emerald-green water of the river that passes through the village of Tenkawa, and the hills of Yoshino that are painted pink in spring with cherry blossoms said to be the most beautiful in Japan.

    Get off the beaten path away from the tourist sites to enjoy some of the superb views that Nara’s more remote areas have to offer!

  • Deer are the first thing that springs to mind when Japanese people think of Nara

    Most Japanese people closely associate Nara with the more than 1,000 wild deer that live in Nara Park. It is common to see the deer wandering down public roads. Designated by the government as a protected species, the deer live in harmony with the residents of Nara and are an important symbol of the city.

    Come and meet these deer that have been cherished for centuries and that in olden times were considered to be messengers of the gods!

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