Sandwiched between Kyoto and Osaka, the humble city of Nara is often skipped by many tourists who’re on a tight schedule.
Nara has a ton of history and culture. (Photo: Wikimedia commons)
Whether if it’s due to a lack of time, the fear from being unable to navigate in an unfamiliar location, or simply not being aware of its existence, Nara is often passed over for the famous Kyoto or the food-filled Osaka.
Not only is this a huge shame, it’s also really ironic as Nara has just as much to offer in terms of sights, sounds and cuisines, giving any traveler plenty of reasons to visit.
From sights to sounds, Nara has plenty to offer in its own right
What might they be? Let’s take a look!
Reason #1: Amazing Heritage
Over 1,300 years old, Nara is easily one of the oldest cities in Japan, making it older than even Kyoto.
As such, Nara is host to many culturally and historically important places recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the most in Japan!
While Nara has many monuments and sites listed under this prestigious title, my personal favourite location has got to be Todai-ji.
Created as far back as the year 728, Todai-ji was originally built under the name ‘Kinshosen-ji’ to pray for Emperor Shomu’s son after his unfortunate early passing.
To establish greater stability after a series of disasters and rebellions during the 730s, a series of Provincial temples was made with Kinshosen-ji as the head.
The massive Daibutsu! (Photo: mikesblender.com)
For the first time, the people themselves were directly involved in the establishment of new Buddhist temples in Japan, resulting in the creation of the Daibutsu (The Great Buddha) and the Daibutsu-den (The Great Buddha Hall) – giving us the Todai-ji we see today!
Not only is it a great place to visit just to gawk at the size of the Daibutsu (at almost 15 metres tall!), it’s also a great way to look and experience what a real Japanese temple feels like.
While it’s technically a reconstruction as the original temple had burned down in 1180, and the original Daibutsu-den was burned in 1567, its authenticity and charm have been amazingly well kept over the years.
One of the other huge statues at Todai-ji
Together with the massive Daibutsu and other statues within its premises, it’s impossible to not visit Todai-ji and feel enlightened!
Reason #2: Delicious Food
While it’s common knowledge that Japan is host to a ‘kaleidoscope’ of different kinds of dishes, there’s just something about Nara’s cuisine that I find special.
One such dish is the kaki no hazushi (柿の葉寿司, persimmon leaf-wrapped sushi).
Perfectly wrapped up and beautifully presented, these make for a tasty, fuss-free side-dish to go with your meal.
A meal comprising of what you ask? Why nothing other than Miwa Soumen of course!
These super-thin noodles from the Miwa region are really light and elegant, yet really satisfying to slurp on.
This is just a sampling of the many kinds of scrumptious dishes available in Nara however. Head on out and explore – who knows what culinary treasures you might find?
Reason #3: Unique Culture
Sometimes, the best reason to love a place could be its very atmosphere itself.
A stamp from the Nara station showing the logo of the Nara Deer Park
Everyone loves feeding the deer
“Don’t mind me, I’m just crossing the street”
From admiring the breath-taking scenery, feeding the deer at Nara Park to even strolling through the streets, I couldn’t help but feel both extremely relaxed, yet thoroughly engaged at the same time when in Nara.
What’s even better is that getting to Nara isn’t a daunting task either.
MISA TRAVEL has many great deals and packages to Nara. Be sure to take advantage of the special WAttention Promotion, where you can get a Couple Discount on selected packages.
Head on down to MISA TRAVEL’s website and you’ll be on your way to Nara in no time.
Peaceful yet full of activity, traditional yet still in touch with today, Nara is simply ‘perfect’ in its own way.
Won’t you come to Nara in your next trip?