The approach to Nara’s most famous and impressive Shinto shrine takes you along an atmospheric forest path, lined with hundreds of stone lanterns. Everywhere you will come across the sacred deer that serve the Shinto deities of the Kasugataisha Shrine.
Entering the main shrine area, you are immediately stuck by the vermillion columns of the shrine buildings, with contrasting white walls and roofs made of cedar bark. One the right side, there is a long cloisters hung with bronze lanterns, many dedicated by famous historical figures. If you pay the entrance fee, you can enter the main shrine building, and see the lanterns up close.
Don’t miss the Fujinami-no-ya hall directly behind the main shrine in the North cloister, which is lit by hundreds of flickering lanterns. It gives you a feel of how the Shrine looks in February and August during the Mantoro Festival, when around 3,000 lanterns, from the stone toro lining the paths through the forest to the bronze lanterns hung throughout the shrine, are lit up from sunset.
Visitors can join morning prayers (omairi) at 9:00 every day.
The shrine was built in 768 by the Fujiwara clan, which dominated Japanese politics until the 11th century. There are four main deities enshrined, including Takemikazuchi no Mikoto who, according to legend, travelled from Ibaraki in Northern Japan on a white deer to dwell on Mt Mikasa, above the shrine. Since then, the deer have been considered sacred.
The wisteria flower (the family crest of the Fujiwara family) and the deer are the main motifs of the shrine, appearing on carvings throughout the complex. In May, the shrine also draws visitors to see over 200 wisteria trees in full bloom.
Just near the shrine entrance, Kasugataisha Shrine Museum has an excellent collection of some of the most important swords, suits of armour and other items dedicated to the deities since the 8th century.
There are paths leading through the park to Mt Wakakusa, Todaiji Temple and Kohfukuji Temple. Behind Kasugataisha Shrine, the sacred Kasugayama Primeval Forest has remained untouched for over 1,000 years.
Last update: 2016-12-06
- Venue Details & Access Info
160 Kasuganocho, Nara
From Kintetsu Nara Station:
- 25 minutes on foot from the station.
Take a bus bound for Kasuga Taisha Honden and alight at the Kasuga Taisha Honden stop.
Related Venues Kasugataisha Shrine Man'yo Botanical Garden
Kasuga Ninai Jaya
Related Events Setsubun Lantern Festival
Deer Antler Cutting
Setsubun Lantern Festival
Manyo Gagaku Festival
Kasugataisha Takigi Noh
Chugen Mantoro Lantern Festival
Manyo Gagaku Performance Festival
Horanya Fire Festival
- 春日大社 Kasugataisha Shrine
- address 奈良市春日野町160 160 Kasuganocho, Nara
- Opening Time & Admissions
Apr - Sep: 6:00 - 18:00
Oct - Mar: 6:30 - 17:00
Special admission to the front of the Main Sanctuary: 8:30 - 16:00
Meoto Daikokusha: 9:00 - 16:30
Homotsuden (Treasure Hall): 9:00 - 17:00 (Last admission at 16:30)
Botanical Garden: Mar - Nov, 9:00 - 17:00 (Last admission at 16:30)
Dec - Feb, 9:00 - 16:30 (Last admission at 16:00)
(Opening hours may vary due to ceremonies or events)
Special admission area closed from around Mar 8th to 13th and Dec 20th to Jan 7th.
Also closed from 9:40 - 12:00 pm on the 1st, 11th, and 21st of each month and on special occasions throughout the year.
*Closing hours may change
Main Sanctuary: ¥500
Man’yo Botanical Garden
*Group discount available
- Contact Details