If you want to pick a one-day trip from Kyoto, Nara is the best choice. With 8 UNESCO Heritage sites, you can discover the Daibutsu (Great Buddha) in the Todai-ji temple, a park full of deer and strolling paths through Shinto shrines gates. Find here the complete quick guide to visit Nara, Japan’s first permanent capital.
The first sight of Todai-ji temple is breathtaking due to the fact that it is the largest wooden building in the world. But the outside is nothing compared to the inside. In the Daibutsu-den, the Great Buddha is welcoming us with his arms largely opened. Most noteworthy, this is the largest Buddha bronze figures in the world.
Do no miss: Raise your eyes to the 16 smaller Buddha’s in the halo. Even if you think they have the same size, the optical illusion is well created. They have gradual size and, thus, they seem identical from the ground.
The main hall of the Kofuku-ji temple is currently under construction. Nevertheless, do not miss visiting its surrounding grounds in order to discover the 5 storeys pagoda. This is a landmark and a symbol for Nara. This pagoda is noteworthy due to the fact that it is the second highest pagoda in Japan whereas the one of To-ji temple in Kyoto is only 7 meters taller (check out a list of the 5 must-see temples in Kyoto).
Designated as Japanese National Treasure, Nigatsu-do is a sub-complex of temples on the grounds of the Todai-ji. The impressive covered walkway and the lantern lined staircase are two points of access to the balcony of the temple. Furthermore, you can see amazing city views.
Do not miss: Practice English with the Japanese children who tour the premises in school visits. Maybe you will even receive a small origami hand-crafted by them.
The pathways around the shrine buildings are my favorite spots in Nara. In addition, I got lost in this enigmatic forest by following the stone lanterns. There are small sub-shrines, hidden tori gates and plenty of deer roaming around.
Do not miss: Buy the special deer biscuits (for up to EUR 1.50) and feed the deer. Seems like they are always eager for handouts.
Did you already visit Nara? Share with the other readers what has impressed you the most.