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The Mysterious Historical City Of Nara

The Mysterious Historical City Of Nara

Nara 2014.10.20 Bookmark

Nara, the ancient capital of Japan, is home to some of the most impressive and oldest UNESCO and National Treasures in Japan.

Translated by UCHACA

Written by UCHACA

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Nara is the capital city of Nara prefecture located in the Kansai region and easily accessed via the two major cities of Kyotoand Osaka. Today, let's take a closer look at the history of Nara.

Famous Places in the Ancient Capital

Heijyō-kyō(平城京), the name for the old city of Nara flourished between the 6th and 8th centuries. Old Nara was much larger than the city today, and built upon the traditional model of Imperial Chinese cities. That is to say, a sacred square with streets radiating out from the central palace in a grid pattern. Over the centuries the palaces of Old Nara have disappeared but the temples, shrines, treasures and even some of the wooden buildings of the time survived.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara include eight places: Tōdai-ji Temple (東大寺), Kofuku-ji Temple (興福寺), Yakushi-ji Temple (薬師寺), Tōshōdai-ji (唐招提寺), Hōryū-ji Temple (法隆寺), Yakushi-ji Temple (薬師寺), Tōshōdai-ji (唐招提寺), Hōryū-ji Temple (法隆寺) and its Buddhist monuments, and Kimpusen-ji Temple (金峯山寺) on beautiful Mount Yoshino (吉野山) which is listed as part of the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range.

World Heritage Sites in Nara

Now let's take a closer look at a couple of these unbelievable sites.

1. Hōryū-ji Temple

Hōryū-ji Temple was commissioned in 607 AD by Prince Shōtoku (聖徳太子) an almost legendary ruler who is said to have established Chinese culture in Japan. Hōryū-ji Temple has been studied and found to be the oldest wooden structure in Japan, and as of time of writing, in the entire world. The temple is something of a time capsule preserving many art works from the 7th and 8th centuries.

2. Kofuku-ji Temple

興福寺

Kofuku-ji Temple is most well-known for its statue of Ashura, the fighting demon. This temple was commissioned by the wife Fujiwara no Kamatari (614-669) and their son, and was used over the centuries as a seat of power and influence over the Imperial family by the Fujiwaras. During the anti-Buddhist movement of the early Meiji era, the temple was very nearly destroyed but has survived that damage and much more since.

At present, the central building of the temple is undergoing reconstruction and repairs and should be once again available for viewing in 2018. The National treasure, The Devas of the Eight Classes, including the statue of Ashura are found here and are simply too unbelievable to be missed.

3. Tōdai-ji Temple

東大寺
盧遮那仏

To the north of Nara Park's central avenue lies Tōdai-ji Temple, home to the gold and bronze made Daibutsu (大仏), the world's largest Buddha statue, which is housed in one of the world's largest wooden structures, the Daibutsu-den (大仏殿) or Great Buddha Hall.

Within the massive temple grounds, you can see important cultural treasures from the Heian era, the Buddhist ordination platform Kaizan-dō (戒壇堂), Shōsōin (正倉院), and the oldest building within the grounds Hokke-dō (法華堂) also known as Sangatsu-dō (三月堂). Here you will be able to see the interplay of cultures that occurred within not only the Imperial family but also the nobility of the time.

Read also: The 66th Annual Exhibition of Shoso-in Treasures in Nara National Museum

In Nara Park you can see hundreds of wild but friendly deer roaming about freely. These deer are a protected natural treasure in Japan.

鹿
鹿と寺

Visit the Past to See the Future

Nara is a culture and history buff's paradise; there are so many different shrines, temples, buildings, national treasures, UNESCO sites and more gathered together here that you are sure to come away from any visit here with your mind buzzing from all the information. If you find yourself in the Kansai area and want to experience something a bit different, by all means make your way to Nara!

苔
道

Information

Hōryū-ji Temple

Address: Nara, Ikoma, Ikarugacho, Horiyuji-yamauchi 1-1
Hours: Feb. 22-Nov.3 8:00-17:00; Nov. 4-Feb. 21 8:00-16:30
Closed: -
Wi-Fi: -
Credit cards: -
Other Languages:English, Chinese, Korean, French & Germany (Homepage only)
Maps: English, Chinese, Korean
Nearest Station: JR Hōryū-ji Station (法隆寺駅)
Access: From JR Nara Station take Yamatoji Line to Horyuji Station then walk 20 minutes, or take shuttle bus (departs every 20 minutes).(12 minutes).
Entrance Fee: Adult 1000 yen, school children 500 yen
Religion: Buddhism
Telephone: 0745-75-2555
Homepage: Hōryū-ji Temple

Kofuku-ji Temple

Address: Nara, Nobori-Ojicho 48
Hours: 9:00-17:00
Closed: -
Wi-fi: -
Credit Cards: -
Other Languages: English, Chinese, Korean
Nearest Station: Kintetsu Nara Station (近鉄奈良駅)
Access: 5 min walk from Kintetsu Nara Station or 20 min walk from JR Nara Station
Entrance Fee: 600 yen (National Treasure Museum), 300 yen (Eastern Golden Hall), 800 yen (both)
Religion: Buddhism
Telephone: 0742-22-7755
Homepage: The Kofuku-ji Temple Complex

Tōdai-ji Temple

Address: Nara, Zoshicho 406-1
Hours: Nov.- Feb. 8:00-16:30; Mar. 8:00-17:00; Apr.- Sep. 7:30-17:30; Oct. 7:30-17:00
Closed: -
Wi-fi: -
Credit Cards: -
Other Languages:
Other Languages: English, Chinese, Korean
Nearest Station: Kintetsu Nara Station (近鉄奈良駅)
Access: 20 min walk from Kintetsu Nara Station or 45 min walk from JR Nara Station
Entrance Fee: Junior High student to Adult 500 yen, elementary age and under 300 yen
Religion: Buddhism
Telephone: 0742-22-5511
Homepage: Tōdai-ji Temple

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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