Steep mountains soar at Nara Prefecture, which has plenty of historical structures.
In 1998, eight properties, known collectively as the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara, were registered as World Heritage Sites.
Nara Prefecture is the second smallest prefecture in Japan, which means that many interesting spots can be toured around in a short time, and this makes it a very appealing place to visit.
Once you get off at Nara Station, the World Heritage Sites near Nara Park are within walking distance from the station.
First you should head to Kofukuji Temple, which is 10 minutes by foot from the station. There is a 50-meter-tall five-storied pagoda, a statue of Asura (a Buddhist deity), and in October 2018 Chu Kondo (the Central Main Hall) finishes its rebuilding work.
A 10-minute walking distance from Kofukuji Temple is Kasuga Taisha, which has deer walking freely within the shrine grounds. Spots that are worth seeing at the shrine include the bright vermilion-colored main shrine, and the 3000 lanterns.
If you keep walking another 20 minutes from Kasuga Taisha, you will arrive at Todaiji Temple. Located at Nandai-mon (the Great South Gate) are two Kongo Rikishi (fierce guardian god) statues, which have been designated as national treasures.
The 15-meter-tall Great Buddha of Nara is the most famous giant Buddha statue in Japan, that almost every Japanese person has seen at least once in their life.
Let’s relax at Nara Park
When you’re done going around all the World Heritage Site, you should take a relaxing moment at Nara Park to pet deer.
The deer have been designated a national natural monument, and you can buy and feed them rice crackers at the spot.
As soon as you take hold of a rice cracker, a lot of deer will surround you, so feed it to them right away!
Some cute deer will bow their head when they are begging for rice crackers.
The deer are very friendly, so you can even take a picture with them up close.
Delicious food in Nara
If you’re looking for local cuisine in Nara Prefecture, we recommend Kaki no Ha (persimmon leaf) sushi, and Houba-zushi. Kaki no ha sushi is made by putting pickled mackerel on vinegar rice, and wrapping it in a leaf. Compared to raw mackerel, it doesn’t smell as much, and is easy to eat.
Among other cuisines there is Goma Dofu, which is a mixture of tofu (made from soybeans), sesame seeds, and Yoshino kuzu (a starch made from Japanese arrowroot), that is chilled in a fridge. This gives it a unique and soft texture.
For those who are looking for sweets, we recommend Mahoroba pudding, which can be bought from Yume Kaze Hiroba Shop located near the main gate of Todaiji Temple.
The lid of the pudding jar has Nara-like pictures such as the great Buddha and deer, which is why many tourists take the empty jar home as a souvenir.
Nara is also famous for its persimmons, so every shop has its own sweets made from persimmons.
As for souvenirs, we recommend Shika no Fun (deer poop). By that we mean peanut chocolate that is shaped like deer poop.
It is a sweet with a very impactful name.
After you have toured around the World Heritage Sites, why not try feeding the deer some rice crackers?
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