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Why Nara Park is special ?
Nara Park (奈良公園, Nara Kōen) is a large park in central Nara. Established in 1880, it is the location of many of Nara's main attractions including Todaiji, Kasuga Taisha, Kofukuji and the Nara National Museum.
The park is home to hundreds of freely roaming deer. Considered in Shinto to be messengers of the gods, Nara's nearly 1200 deer have become a symbol of the city and have even been designated as a natural treasure. Nara's deer are surprisingly tame, although they can be aggressive if they think you will feed them. Deer crackers are for sale around the park, and some deer have learned to bow to visitors to ask to be fed.
What to explore at Nara Park?
Large temple roofs and pagoda towers peek through the trees. A 15-meter-tall Buddha housed in the world's largest wooden building.
Nara Park is located in the center of the city of Nara, extending about 4 kilometers from east to west, and about 2 kilometers from south to north. Many deer graze along the spacious lawns and frolic on the grass. Inside the park area are Todai-ji Temple, Kasuga Taisha Shrine and many other historic structures that represent the glory of the city over many centuries. Small streams and ponds add charm to the scenery. The image of great temple roofs and the tips of tall pagodas peeking through the trees will be an unforgettable memory of your journey to Nara. Throughout the year the stream of visitors to Nara is never interrupted.
In 728, the Emperor Shomu, who placed great importance upon Buddhism, founded Todai-ji Temple, now inscribed as a World Cultural Heritage Site. It is a head temple, ruling the other 68 Kokubun-ji temples (branch temples) scattered throughout the country, and it is said that it was called "Himugashi-no-Odera," or "large temple in the east," because it was located to the east of the then-capital, Heijo-kyo.
Daibutsu-den (Great Buddha Hall) is 57 meters long and 50 meters wide, making it the world's largest wooden structure. The hall enshrines a huge statue of the great Buddha. Weighing approximately 300 tons and standing some 15 meters tall, it is the largest Buddha statue in the world.
The precincts of the temple offer many interesting spots for tourists including: the Nan-dai-mon (the Great Southern Gate), on which you can see two images of Kongo Rikishi (Buddhist guardians) which are over 8 meters tall; the Nigatsu-do Hall, which is surrounded by a stage-like corridor overlooking the Daibutsu-den and the city of Nara; and the Sangatsu-do Hall, the oldest wooden structure standing in the Todai-ji Temple precincts, in which you can see artistic sculptures from the 8th century.
The trek to the top of Mt. Wakakusa-yama, at 342 meters above sea level, is a good form of exercise that you can easily enjoy inside the city. From the hilltop you will be treated to a magnificent panoramic view of the Nara Basin. The night view is also beautiful and has been rated as one of the best three beautiful night views in Japan, newly selected by NPO in 2003.
Another major attraction inside the park is Kofuku-ji, a temple built in the early 8th century by the Fujiwara clan, a powerful family of the time. The precincts were expanded as the Fujiwaras became more dominant, and at their peak, it is said to have been 13 times larger than it is today (now 4 square kilometers).
How to get to Nara Park?
From Osaka(Kansai Airport) :
[Rail] 1h 25 min from Kansai Airport to Nara Station by Airport Limousine Bus.
35 min from Namba to Nara Station by Kintetsu Nara Line (regular express).
From Osaka :
[Rail] 35 min from Kintetsu Namba to Kintetsu Nara Station by Kintetsu Nara Line (rapid express).
From Tokyo :
[Rail] 2h 15 min to Kyoto Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line (Nozomi), and 35 min from Kyoto to Kintetsu Nara Station by Kintetsu Kyoto Line (limited express).
*It takes 2h 45 min from Tokyo to Kyoto Station by Hikari Shinkansen.
- Deers everywhere
- Be vary of the deers
- Great place with beautiful old temples
- Extremely fun place for all ages
- Perfect for a sunny day
469 Zoshicho, Nara 630-8211, Nara Prefecture
Tips for you
We left Todaiji temple and headed out to Nara Park. Just when we left the Nandaimon Gate, we see deers around, some resting, some surrounding those visitors with biscuits. The deers are well behaved and mind their business. However, when we had the deer crackers, they appear out of nowhere. Some actually bow before nibbling the crackers from our hands. It was fun and my older boy adores them. However, my younger 2 year old was not so fond of them, was scared when they try licking him. Once we have run out of crackers, they left us and looked for others with the crackers. Funny how they don't go to the stalls that sells those crackers. Walking back to Kintetsu Train station, we found that deers are roaming freely everywhere, which is a sight to behold. Tip: make sure you capture a video during the feed.
Lots of temples for visiting & a walk in the woods, surronded by more then a thousand sacred deer. Loved the visit
So much fun!! We came here on a day trip from Osaka. The train ride is super fast, cheap, and easy. Take the Kintetsu line from Osaka Nanba Station to Kintetsu Nara Station and you'll alight just a few minutes' walk from all the sights in Nara. The temples were cool but we really enjoyed just walking around and feeding the deer. Bow to the deer before handing them a cracker and they will return the honor! Do be careful though, as one of the deer ate the map out of my back pocket and we saw another bite a woman's bag! Overall the deer were very well behaved, though, and were very gentle about taking food from your hand.