Osaka day trip to Heimiji castle

Nara unesco heritage

Nara hosts some Japans most important cultural attractions. It houses the world´s oldest the largest timber buildings. This small city is of great cultural significance to Japan.

What not to mis:

Todai-ji wooden temple with bronze buddha statue
Kasuga Taisha a Shinto temple, many weddings take place here
Hioryu-ji temple (south of Nara city)


Getting there:

Nara is located east from Osaka and south of Kyoto. From both these cities Nara makes a perfect day trip. The gross of attractions can be found in Nara city itself, if you have more time to spend consider to visit some other historical sights in the Nara prefecture. I specially recommend visiting the Buddhist Monuments called Horyu-ji  unesco heritage  in Ikaruga town (only 12 minutes by train south of Nara city) also listed as a world heritage site.

From Kyoto Station:
Both the JR Nara Line and the private Kintetsu Kyoto Line will get you to Nara quickly, just under an hour. You disembark at JR Nara Station station it is situated next to Isozaki's "Nara convention Hall" in case you are interested in Contemporary Architecture.

From Osaka:
The fastest route is to take the private Kintetsu Nara Line from Namba Station to Kintetsu Nara Station (10 minutes walk to Todai-ji) and takes about 40 minutes.


Site seing:

Todai-ji  unesco heritage 

Todai-ji is said to be the worlds largest wooden structure and should not be missed, the temple contains a 250-plus-ton Buddha, the world's largest bronze casting. Approaching Todai-ji you will first walk through the Nandai-mon gate is a huge portal erected without using any nails. Two large Guardian statues look down at you from their niches. You will also see many free roaming deer here. It is a hint to the story that the historical Buddha gave his first lesson in a deer park.

Todai-ji temple containing the large Buddha statue Todai-ji temple containing the large Buddha statue.
Tickets from travel log. Scan of my travel log with Tickets, avarage prices hover around 500 Yen per site.

Kasuga Taisha  unesco heritage 

Kasuga taisha is a large Shinto complex thirty-minute walk up hill from Todai-ji and it takes you through the deer park and woods, it is the second-most important Shinto shrine in Japan.

Kasuga taisha is a large Shinto complex. Kasuga Taisha is a large Shinto complex.
Wedding at the Kasuga Taisha large Shinto complex. Shinto wedding at the Kasuga Taisha.
Famous tree at the Kasuga Taisha. Famous tree at the Kasuga Taisha. With typical Shinto white paper 'lightning' symbol


Lunch | diner:

Nara city has many types of restaurants to choose from. My favorite is the more hidden option Yu Nakagawa Shop, you can enjoy lunch or diner here in a traditional Japanese surrounding.

Restaurant at the Yu Nakagawa Restaurant at the Yu Nakagawa Shop in Nara city centre.

Yu Nakagawa, started in Nara, is a shop offering textile products and other goods. They have become very popular throughout Japan. Their main shop also has a very nice, albeit small, restaurant in the back.

Ask to be seated in the tatami room and you will have a nice view of the small courtyard garden. They have limited seats and I advice to make a reservation in advance. You can try your luck and just walk in, some staff speak English, their products make nice souvenirs too.

Yu Nakagawa Shop
Tel: +081-742-24-2267
Walk into the Mochiidono Center Arcade after about 100 meters from the North entrance, turn left into a narrow lane. It is a Dark wooden building on your left hand side.
34°40'52.50"N 135°49'46.67"E
Open: 11:30-18:00 Lunch time is divided into 4 starting hours of 11:30..., 12:00..., 13:00..., 13:30..., with 1 hour and 20 minutes time limit.


Hioryu-j  unesco heritage 

It is only a 12 minute train trip to Ikaruga town where the Horyu-ji temple located. This temple complex is from the 7th century CE , the time when Buddhism was introduced into Japan via Korea (To be precise the Baekje kingdom, part of what is now South-Korea)

Getting there:

By train :
The quickest and easiest option. From JR Nara Station take the Yamatoji Line to Horyuji Station (12 minutes). From there, it is a 20 minute walk or 5 minute bus ride to the temple.

By bus :
From JR or Kintetsu Nara Station, take bus number 97 for a one hour trip to Horyuji-mae. about one bus per hour.


The 8th century was the most influential period in Nara´s development. In 710 CE the capital was established, Nara was called Heijo-kyo then and was modeled after Chang'an. Chang'an is current day Xi´an in China, the capital city of the Chinese Tang Dynasty the start / end of important trading routes.

Chinese influence on the Japanese upper classes was very strong, Chinese writing, fashion, and Buddhism where introduced into Japan from China. In fact more buildings in Tang style survive in Japan than did in China.

Nara is, in many ways, the foundation of modern day Japan. A myth says that in 768, a deity was seen riding a white deer over the hills in Nara. This was very auspicious since the Buddha was said to have delivered his first teaching in a deer park. Till this day deer are considered sacred animals in Nara and roam free around the main temples.

nara picture gallery

Nara Convention Hall:

If you are interested in Contemporary Architecture then visit the "Nara convention Hall" by Arata Isozaki it is next to JR Nara station.

Phasellus Nara convention hall.

location map

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