Nara Prefecture is located in the Kansai region of Japan, surrounded by a wealth of historical heritage sites. The prefecture borders Kyoto and Osaka and is known to be one of the best spots to enjoy autumn colours in Japan. Read on to learn about the most mesmerizing destinations within Nara Prefecture.
Nara city is the capital of the Prefecture and preserves some of Japan’s most ancient history. Visitors will get the chance to learn about Japanese religion, culture, and civilization, from ancient times to modernity. For 84 years, Nara city was also the capital of Japan, mainly from 710 to 794 AD. While the city is home to several unique and beautiful historic temples, if you only visit one during your visit in Nara, make sure to visit Todai-ji Temple. Built in the mid-700’s, it houses Japan's largest bronze Buddha statue. In addition, the temple is also known as the largest wooden building in the world.
Another important attraction in Nara city is the large number of deer who seemingly roam all over the city. From the moment you step out of the train station, you will be greeted by these friendly, fuzzy animals. According to the legends, a god travelled all the way from Ibaraki in the north, to Mount Mikasa in Nara, on a white deer. Since then, the deer have been considered sacred in Japan. The majority of these deer can be found in Nara Park, as there are more than a thousand of them that live and roam freely in the park. Feeding them is not discouraged, on the contrary, you can buy deer crackers called shika-senbei, which are sold in the park area for 150 Yen per pack. The park itself is also home to several small lakes and ancient pavilions. Of particular interest is Ukimidō, an octagonal building by the Sagiike Pond, which has a unique design that makes it appear to be floating on water.
Sakurai can be considered the cradle of Japanese Civilization, as it is home to some of Japan’s oldest and best-preserved historical shrines. Especially the Hase-dera Temple, which is also one of the best places to enjoy autumn foliage in Nara. Getting there is easy, as only takes 15 minutes on foot from Hase-Dare station. When you visit during fall, be sure to look for the magnificent foliage surrounding the trees of the temple. Before entering Hase-dera Temple, you will be greeted by the majestic Hase-dera Gate, after which you will be led to a stairway, stretching up to 399 steps. These stairways are unique and a treasure of Japanese history.
Yoshino in Nara prefecture is a quaint, small village, famous for its yearly cherry blossoms in the Spring and colourful autumn foliage in the Fall, when thousands of maple trees turn golden. The village also features world-class historic temples and the oldest surviving ropeway in Japan, that will lead you to the top of Mount Yoshino for some amazing vistas.