Journey to the Heart of Japan
Nara is the most historic and spiritual centre of Japan, where Buddhism first flourished and the first capital city was built over 1300 years ago. Close to Kyoto and Osaka and quickly accessible by train, Nara is a living history book, full of World Heritage sites and well-preserved temples and shrines. Much of Nara is still semi-rural, dotted with picturesque villages, where life follows the rhythms of the seasons.
Gateway to the Kii Peninsula
Often referred to as the birthplace of Japanese culture and society, Nara stands on the doorstep of the Kii Peninsula, a mountainous region comprised of the three prefectures of Nara, Wakayama and Mie. Together, these have been Japan's spiritual heartland for over 1200 years. Ancient pilgrimage routes connect Nara's spiritual sites with Koyasan in the west and Kumano in the south of Wakayama prefecture, and Shinto’s holiest site, Ise Jingu Shrine, lies to the east, in Mie prefecture.
The Jewel in Japan's World Heritage Crown
With more UNESCO World Heritage sites than anywhere else in Japan, Nara’s three key sites have over 20 venues. The Ancient Monuments of Horyuji have unique historic, spiritual and artistic significance. The Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara acknowledge the vitality of the Nara period and The Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range covers the Yoshino and Omine mountains.
Nature in Abundance
When people talk about “the real Japan”, the landscape of Nara is what comes to mind. Less developed and touristy than Kyoto and Tokyo, Nara offers a slower pace and real connection to its people. Soft rolling plains and traditional towns are criss-crossed by ancient walking paths. To the south, the sacred mountains offer challenging hikes, wild forests and dramatic views.
The temples, shrines and deer are world famous, but Nara has much more. From camping under the stars to elegant ryokan, from ancient crafts to cool cafes, there is something here for everyone. Most of all, Nara is its people. Sometimes shy, but always open and friendly, you’ll carry the warmth of these encounters for years to come.
a comprehensive showcase of Nara's most defining areas
World Heritage temples, relaxing parklands and friendly deer
a historic town for strolling and shopping without the crowds
traces of Japan’s first city still remain, along with ancient temples and burial mounds
physical and spiritual renewal in a deep mountain hideaway
stroll and cycle through fertile fields and ancient monuments
misty mountains and hot spring havens; the natural charm of Nara’s deep south
sacred journeys, cherry blossoms and simple mountain life
goldfish, a tea ceremony retreat and Nara’s only castle; tradition comes alive
an open museum of living history and a perfect day out
a selection of singularly spectacular destinations ideal for excursions
an ancient samurai retreat with tumbling rivers and waterfalls
unique scenery and spectacular views
beauty and spectacular views in all seasons
deep Nara: rural hideaways, ancient temples and a modern art forest
the legendary centre of Japan’s history
experience ancient spiritual practices and hike through flower covered mountains
feel the power of history in an ancient temple town
sweeping vistas, easy hiking and relaxing onsen bathing
follow in the footsteps of the ancients, from the bronze age to Nara’s golden era