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Nara's Eye-Catching Architecture

Nara is famous for its historic sites and ancient architecture. Anyone with an interest in architecture can appreciate the wonders of Horyuji Temple and the majestic proportions of Todaiji Temple. But you might not know that Nara also has some excellent modern architecture.

Nara may surprise you with its avant garde architecture

From the elegant Meiji era proportions of Nara Hotel to the sharp lines and bold shapes of Muro Art Forest, Nara may surprise you with its avant garde architecture.

Built in 1909, Nara Hotel was designed by Kingo Tatsuno, who also designed Tokyo Station. It was the premier western style hotel in Nara, hosting the likes of Albert Einstein and Audrey Hepburn. It still retains its grand 1930s atmosphere and the halls are lined with fascinating memorabilia.

there’s no mistaking the era

With its cool, brutalist concrete facade and modernist wood interior, there’s no mistaking the era of the Nara Prefectural Office. Built in 1965 by architect Mitsuo Katayama, it is very well preserved. Head up to the rooftop for great views over Nara Park.

Surrounded by water, the building appears to float

Master architect Kisho Kurokawa, most famous for Tokyo’s Nakagin Capsule Tower, designed the Nara City Museum of Photography in 1989. It echoes the traditional houses and shrines around it, with an angled roof, which uses tiles based on those at Shinyakushiji Temple. Surrounded by water, the building appears to float.

Kashihara City Museum of Insects stands out

Built in 1989, Kashihara City Museum of Insects stands out with its exotic design. Its soaring glass canopy roof arches to mimic an insect’s wings. Under the canopy, full sized tropical gardens house butterflies and bugs. If you’re squeamish about touching them, you can try virtual insect experiences.

dedicated to Japan’s oldest book of poetry

From the outside, Nara Prefecture Complex of Man'yo Culture, dedicated to Japan’s oldest Imperial anthology of waka poetry, seems unassuming. Built in 2001, it is in the shape of a traditional wooden storehouse, rendered in concrete. It is actually built on a hillside and conceals many of its features below ground.

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