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Nara Prefecture
 
 
Upcoming Events March
3/1-3/14 Todaiji Temple Shunie (Omizutori)
The tradition of Shunie (Omizurori) is said to have started back in 752 A.D. and has been carried out nonstop ever since. On the 12th at 1:30am Omizutori, the ritual of getting water to offer to the Kannon Bosatsu starts, and every night the torch light...
 
 
Sakura Spots March - April

■Yoshinoyama | Yoshino Town
The 8-km-long counterfort stretching from the north to south of Omine mountain range is called Yoshinoyama. In addition to the Shugen-do temples, there are many historical sites from the Nambokucho Period (full 14C). Since the ancient days Yoshinoyama has been known as one of the best places to view cherry blossoms in Japan and the sakura here is read in many poems and songs. Most of the 30,000 cherry trees coloring the counterfort in elegant beauty are Shiroyamazakura. >> more

 
Foliage Spots November - December

■Tanzan Shrine, Hasedera Temple | Sakurai City
Tanzan Shrine and Hasedera Temple are both historically and culturally precious sites located in the Same City.
Tanzan Shrine proudly boasts a series of cultural assets including the world’s one and only wooden thirteen-story-pagoda, which at autumn time creates an exquisite yet dignified and profound landscape with the 3,000 maple trees and joined by Japanese cherry, zelkova, Japanese Judas and dodan-tsutsuji (Enkianthus perulatus) changing their colors into red, orange and gold. >> more
Tanzan Shrine (Japanese / English) | Hasedera Temple (Japanese only)
 
 
Prefectural Guide
 
Todaiji Temple Todaiji
Photo by Yano Tatehiko

Todaiji is the head temple of a Buddhist school Kegonshu, and is located in Zoshicho, Nara City. The principle image of Buddha in this temple is Rushanabutsu, more widely known as “The Buddha of Nara” (Nara no Daibutsu).

The great hall is known to be the largest wooden building in the world, and the temple has given great influence on Japanese culture throughout Japanese history.

 
Kofukuji

The hall tower has repeatedly burnt down and restored over history, and at the time of Haibutsu-kishaku (destruction and abandonment of Buddhism) during the Meiji Period it has almost been brought to complete collapse.

Yet, halls and towers such as Togondo, Gojunoto, Hokuendo, Sanjunoto(all national treasures), and Nanendo(important cultural asset) have remained and preserve prominent Buddhist sculptures and statues.

 

Kasuga Shrine (Kasuga-Taisha)

Kasuga Shrine
Photo: Courtesy of Tourism Section Nara Municipal Office

Kasuga Shrine was originally founded in 768 A.D. to protect Heijokyo (kyo means capital city). The main shrine building with the present scale had been built during the early years of Heiankyo.

Many religious lanterns had been dedicated to the shrine, for the shrine gathered devout worshippers not only from the Imperial family but also from lay people. The main shrine and various kojinpo (old divine treasures) have been designated as national treasures, and many other shrine buildings and divine treasures such as Wakamiya Shrine and the South Gate as important cultural asset. The buildings have been rebuilt every 20 years accordingly to the ritual of shikinen-zotai.

 

Horyuji

It is told that Prince Shotoku and Emperor Suiko had founded the temple in 607 A.D. carrying out the intention of the previous Emperor Yomei.
The quarter is largely divided into Toin (East quarter) and Saiin (West quarter) and both are independently surrounded by a Tsukijihei-style  Ogaki (a graet wall) which is a cultural asset.

As you walk through an entrance path of beautiful pine trees you will come across Minami-daimon (natural treasure). In the West quarter which is the center of Horyuji, the Gojunoto and Kondo (both national treasures) stand next to each other, and the Kairo (hallway: national treasure) connects Nakamon and Daikodo (both national treasures). You will find the East quarter with Yumedono (national treasure) as you go through Higashi-daimon (national treasure).
 
Yoshinoyama
Yoshinoyama

The cherry trees covering the entire mountain of Yoshinoyama, has been protected so strictly that there is a saying, “anyone who cuts a branch would have his finger cut.”
There are approximately 30,000 cherry trees on this mountain and the number of poets and writers who have been attracted to these cherry blossoms are uncountable, as you can see in a large number of masterpiece poems.

Due to the gap in height above sea level, the flowers bloom with a slight gap in their blooming seasons accordingly to the height (bottom thousand, middle thousand, upper thousand, and further (inner) thousand), and thus allow you to enjoy cherry blossoms for as long as one month at one or another part of the mountain.
The season for cherry blossoms at Yoshinoyama is early to late April.
 
Annual Events
Omizutori | Drums on the Bridge | Daibutsusama Ominugui
 
Spirited Away (2001)
  • Haruki Murakami
  • Yasunari Kawabata
  • Banana Yoshimoto
  • Yukio Mishima
  • Inazo Nitobe
  • Japanese Tea
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  • VAIO
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