Tourist spots in Nara Prefecture

Japan as a civilized state began from Nara.
We have many historic or historical tourist spots in Nara.
Asuka where operation as Japanese nation started.
Horyuji Temple by Prince Shotoku whom many Japanese love.
Todaiji Temple and The Great Buddha by Emperor Shomu.
Kofukuji Temple and Kasuga Taisha Shrine which have developed by the great power of Fujiwara family.
Gangoji Temple originating from the first full-fledged temple in Japan.
Nara-machi around temples and shrine.
Other many places.

      Overview

Events in Nara Prefecture
   (March 31 - May 19)

Note: The part shown as Nxx.xxxx Exxx.xxxx represents latitude and longitude and is linked to Google map.

March 31, Onioi-shiki (the ceremony driving demons out) [Yakushiji temple in Nara City (N34.6683 E135.7843)]
It is an ceremony starting around 20:30. Five demons have a torch in their hands and are rampaging on the stage in front of Kondo hall. At then Bishamonten appears and get rid of the demons. (Bishamonten is a guardian god of Buddhism)
April 1, Chanchan-matsuri (Chanchan festival) [Oyamato shrine in Tenri City (N34.5710 E135.8376)]
The main ceremony of the festival called Owatari will be held from about 13:30. About 250 people dressed in various roles will be going from the Otabijo to Oyamato Shrine.
April 3, Otaue-sai (Otaue festival) [Yoshino Mimakuri shrine in Yoshino Town (N34.3910 E135.8486)]
"Otaue-sai" will be held to wish for a rich harvest of grains from 1 pm. A man dressed as a farmer and a man dressed as a cow appear with tools for rice work, and the state of farming work from plowing the field to taking in rice will be humorously and solemnly carried out.
April 5, Mizuya jinja chinkasai (Chinka festival of Mizuya shrine) [Mizuya shrine in Kasugataisha shrine in Nara City (N34.6833 E135.8470)]
Chinka-sai of Mizuya shrine was founded in 1288, and is a festival hoping to prevent the spread of plagues in summer. From 10 am, shrine ritual will be held and shinto music and dancing will be performed. From 1 pm Kyogen will be performed.
April 8, Busshoe (Buddha birthday celebration) [Daibutsuden hall of Todaiji temple in Nara City]
April 8, Busshoe (Buddha birthday celebration) [Kondo hall of Toshodaiji temple in Nara City (N34.68897 E135.83983)]
April 8, Busshoe (Buddha birthday celebration) [Nan'endo hall of Kofukuji temple in Nara City (N34.68253 E135.83034)]
April 8, Busshoe (Buddha birthday celebration) [Jikido hall of Horyuji temple in Ikaruga Town (N34.6147 E135.7355)]
April 8, Kanbutsue (Buddha birthday celebration) [Main hall of Chogosonshiji temple in Heguri Town (N34.6095 E135.6713)]
It is a festival to celebrate the birth of Buddha. Amacha tea will be poured over a Buddhist statue by a tea ladle as a celebration.
April 8, Otaimatsu [Shinyakushiji Temple in Nara City (N34.6758 E135.8462)]
It is a ritual to repent for sins and to pray for tranquillity and peace of people. From 5 pm, priests will repent for sins and chant of Buddhist hymns. From 7 pm, monks led by 11 torches will come in, solicit gods from all over the country by calling their names, and pray for tranquillity and peace of people.
April 9, Haru no Omiwa-sai (Spring festival of Omiwa Shrine) [Omiwa Jinja shrine in Sakurai City (N34.5288 E135.8530)]
In the morning a deity will be held and then Kagura will dance. In the afternoon, Mikoshi (portable shrine), the priests on the horse, the priests under the horse, ujiko (shrine parishner) with each region's spears and sacred treasures, the infants and the cavalry warriors will march in a procession.
April 10, Hanaku senbonzuki (Pounding with many pestles at the ritual of offering flowers) [Kinpusenji Temple in Yoshino Town (N34.3683 E135.8589)]
It is a traditional event that began when Kosen priest of Kinpusenji Temple received rice donations from countries every year about 1000 years ago, and offered Mochi made from the rice to the Zao Gongen, and then gave them to neighboring people. From 1:00 pm people with their own pestles will be singing Ise Ondo and pounding steamed rice in a mortar to make rice cake.
April 13, Haru no O-chamori-shiki (Spring tea ceremony) [Komyoden hall of Saidaiji Temple in Nara City (N34.6930 E135.7788)]
It is a traditional event that began with the fact that the tea that remained when Eison priest dedicated the tea to Hachiman Shrine in 1239 was served to the people. Participants have a huge bowl of tea and drink tea in it.
April 14, Chujo-hime goennichi nerikuyoeshiki [Taimadera in Katsuragi City (N34.5161 E135.6947)]
From 4:00 pm, an event will be held to show that the twenty-fifth Buddhist saints will come from the Buddhists' paradise to the temple and place the Chujohime on the lotus platform and lead her to the Buddhists' paradise.
April 17, Hojoe [Hitokoto-kannondo hall of kofukuji Temple in Nara City (N34.68261 E135.83042)]
It is an event that the fish caught is released to the pond by the teaching that the life of the creature is important. It takes place from 1 pm.
April 18, Cinkasai (Medicine festival) [Main shrine and Saijinja in Omiwajinja shrine in Sakurai City (N34.5288 E135.8529, N34.5310 E135.8540)]
Suikazura and lily root of medicinal herb will be offered. And a shrine ritual will be held.
April 19, Manju-matsuri (Manju festival) [Rin-jinja in Kango-jinja shrine in Nara City (N34.68362 E135.82528)]
It is a festival that honors Mr. Hayashi who invented Japanese confectionery Manju, and prays for the flourishing of the confectionery industry. 10:00 Distribution of numbered tickets where you can get the Manju, 11:00 Shinto ritual, 12:00 Manju are offered
April 21, Orenzo (O festival) [O-jinja shrine in Tawaramoto Town (N34.5356 E135.7867)]
It is a spring festival that prays for five grains of richness to God. In the morning a ritual will be held, and in the afternoon an entertainment dedication will be played. Lastly, Omochimaki is held. Omochimaki is an event of scattering rice cakes for people
April 24, Onono Komachi Ki (Ritual to recall Onono Komachi) [Obitokedera Temple in Nara City (N34.6448 E135.8269)]
A ritual will be held from 14:00. After that, Japanese dance is dedicated to Ono no Komachi at the south of the main hall. Ono No Komachi was a poet around the 9th century and is said to have been a woman of unmatched beauty.
April 25, Monjue (Monju festival) [Tokondo hall of Kofukuji Temple in Nara City (N34.68288 E135.83223)]
In order to be given the wisdom of Monju Bosatsu, a procession of children will pull a cart from Jokyoji (N34.68207 E135.82524) Temple to Tokondo of Kofukuji Temple.
April 29, Kemari-sai (Kemari festival in spring) [Kemari garden in Tanzan jinja shrine in Sakurai City(N34.4656 E135.8609)]
Kemari will be demonstrated with traditional costume from 11 am. Kemari is the ancient Japanese football game.
May 1, Kenpyo-sai (Ice festival) [Himuro jinja shrine in Nara City(N34.68433 E135.83788)]
Ices will be dedicated to God. And the ritual will be held at 11:00 am with the attendance of ice makers and distributors. Visitors will be provided with shaved ice.
May 2, Emperor Shomu Festival [Tennoden and Daibutsuden in Todaiji in Nara City]
A ritual will be held at Tennoden Hall (Emperor Hall) from 8 am. And people with various traditional costumes march from Nara Kasugano International Forum (public hall) to Daibutsuden Hall of Todai-ji Temple from 1 pm. From the time the procession approaches the Great Buddha Hall (around 13:30), Kasuga Taisha Kogaku Preservation Society dedicates bugaku and kyosan-no (both are traditional dance) at the stage on Kagamiike pond.
May 8, Kanbutsue (Buddha birthday celebration in the lunar calendar) [Gangoji temple in nara City (N34.6778 E135.8315)]

May 12, Hashu-sai (Ritual for seeding) [Omiwa-jinja shrine in Sakurai City (N34.5313 E135.8518)]
Rice will be served before God in the fall. Because of that, seeds for harvesting the rice will be planted in a special field. The ritual will begin at 10:30 am. First, salt is sprinkled on the fields to cleanse. Then the special members who are dressed in white costumes perform the operations of cultivating the field and planting seeds. And in the place where the water is drawn in, a stick called imigushi where the god of water dwells is set up. After that, they will actually plant to the rice fields.

May 19, Chukokibonmoe (Uchiwa-throwing festival) [Toshodaiji temple in Nara City (N34.6757 E135.7849)]
From 1 pm, a ritual and a bugaku (Japanese traditional dance) performance will be held at the Kodo hall. From 3 pm, 1500 uchiwa(fan) will be thrown from the Shariden hall. The participation ticket is necessary to grab the fan, and the ticket will be distributed to the first 400 people from 9 am. The 1.000 fan will be distributed by lottery, and the lottery ticket will be distributed until 3 pm.

Tourist spots in Nara City

Kasugataisha shrine and its surrounding tourist attractions

a)Kasugataisha shrine

Kasuga Taisha shrine was created around the time when the capital was built in Nara about 1,300 years ago.
God Takemikazuchinomikoto was greeted from the present Kashima in Ibaraki Prefecture to mountaintop (was called Ukigumonomine) of Mikasayama mountain, and he was enshrined there.
It is said that God Takemikazuchinomikoto rode a white deer at that time.
Therefore, deer are being cherished in Nara.
In 768, under the order of Emperor Shotoku, Minister Fujiwara built four temples in the present place.
God Takemikazuchinomikoto was enshrined there, andGod Futsunushinomikoto and God Amenokoyanenomikoto and God Himegami were also enshrined.
After that, royalty and aristocracy came to visit there frequentry, and Kasuga Taisha faith spread even to samurai and common people, and it became until 3000 branches of Kasugataisha shrine were made all over the country.
In addition, Kasugataisha Shrine is also famous for having lots of fishing lanterns and stone lanterns (about 3000).

It is approximately 0.9 mile (1500 m) from JR Nara station and approximately 0.5 mile (850 m) from Kintetsu Nara station to the first torii gate of Kasuga Taisha shrine.
It is approximately 1.8 miles (2900 m) from JR Nara station and approximately 1.4 mile (2300 m) from Kintetsu Nara station to the main shrine of Kasuga Taisha Shrine.

b)The approach to Kasuga-taisha Shrine

There is about 0.87 mile (1,400 m) from the first torii to the main shrine of Kasuga Taisha Shrine.
There are many stone lanterns on the approach road, and there are many deer.
The approach to the Kasuga-taisha Shrine

Ichinotorii gate of Kasuga-taisha Shrine

c)Rokuen (Deer Center)

The Rokuen is a deer protection facility.
There are exhibits such as panels to learn about the ecology and history of deer.
You can also observe the deer that is protected in the Rokuen.
It is near the middle of the approach road.
Rokuen

c)Man'yo Botanical Garden

It is a botanical garden opened in 1932 and has a size of about 7acres (about 3 hectares).
There are about 300 kinds of plants in the botanical garden.
Those plants were written in Manyoshu(the oldest anthology of Japanese poem).
It is in the middle of the approach road.

Todaiji Temple and its surrounding tourist attractions

a)Todaiji Temple

There is a great Buddha in what is particularly famous in Nara.
Big Buddha was built around 1300 years ago.
Emperor Shomu ordered the establishment of the Great Buddha in 743.
At first the Great Buddha was planned to be built in Shigaraki (present Shiga prefecture).
However, as disasters occurred frequently, it was changed to be established in Nara in 745.
Priest Roben and priest Gyoki were greatly active in the establishment.
It was priest Roben that played an active part in the religious aspect.
It was priest Gyoki that was active in collecting donations and workers.
The Great Buddha was completed in 752.
After that, the Great Buddha and the Buddha hall were destroyed in 1180 by the war.
And priest Chogen rebuilt in 1185 with the cooperation of the Kamakura shogunate.
In 1567 the Buddha statue was destroyed again.
It is priest Kokei who started this reconstruction.
However, the reconstruction was completed in 1692 after the death of priest Kokei.

It is approximately 1.4 mile (2300 m) from JR Nara station and approximately 0.9 mile (1500 m) from Kintetsu Nara station to Nandaimon gate of Todaiji Temple.
It is approximately 1.6 mile (2600 m) from JR Nara station and approximately 1 mile (1600 m) from Kintetsu Nara station to Great Buddha hall of Todaiji.

All
The Great Buddha Hall
Nandaimon Gate(Great South Gate)
Nigatsudo
Hokkedo Hall (Sangatsudo Hall)
Sanmaido Hall (Shigatsudo Hall)
Kaizando Hall
Nenbutsudo Hall
Gyokido Hall
Syunjodo Hall
Big Bell Tower (Nara Taro)
Kaidando Hall
Shosoin
Tegaimon Gate
Site of the Lecture Hall
Tea houses by the Nigatsudo Hall
Todaiji Museum
The restaurant called Todaiji Emado-chaya

Great Buddha of Todaiji temple

b)Nara National Museum

The Nara National Museum opened as an Imperial Nara Museum in 1895.
Cultural assets centering on Buddhist art are displayed here.
The exhibition called Shosointen is held every autumn, and a large number of arts and crafts centered around the Tempyo era (around the 700's) are exhibited.
It is approximately 1.2 mile (1900 m) from JR Nara station and approximately 0.7 mile (1100 m) from Kintetsu Nara station to Nara National Museum.

Nara National Museum

c)Himuro Jinja Shrine

When the capital moved to Heijo-kyo in 710, it is the beginning of this shrine that the god of ice was enshrined in Kasuga Mountain by the command of Emperor Genmei.
It was moved to the present place in 860.
The shrine has many devout worshippers who make ice.
A festival named Kenpyosai is held on May 1 every year.
It is approximately 1.2 mile (2000 m) from JR Nara station and approximately 0.7 mile (1200 m) from Kintetsu Nara station to Himurojinja shrine.

Kofukuji Temple and its surrounding tourist attractions

a)Kofukuji Temple

The origin of Kofukuji Temple is the Yamashinadera Temple that was in Yamashiro country(present southern part of Kyoto Prefecture.).
When Kamatari Nakatomi-no (Kamatari Fujiwara-no on the day before death) is seriously ill, Yamashinadera Temple was built in 669 to pray for his recovery of his illness by his wife.
(Kamatari Nakatomi-no is a meritorious person who regained back the administration from the Soga family to the Emperor.)
When the capital was transferred to Asuka in 673, Yamashinadera Temple also moved to its vicinity.
(Asuka was a part of the current Asuka village.)
And it came to be called Umayasakadera Temple according to the place name.
Kamatari Fujiwara-no had an excellent son named Fuhito.
Fuhito was also active for Emperor.
In 710 the capital was transferred to Heijo-Kyo.
(Heijo - kyo was part of the present Nara city and part of Yamatokoriyama city.)
In accordance with this, Umayasakadera Temple also moved to the present place and became the name Kofukuji.
Fuhito died in 720.
Kofukuji Temple was family temple of Fujiwara, but the Emperor built Nan'endo Hall for memorial.
After that, Fujiwara family had power as an aide of the Emperor even after the capital moved to Kyoto.
And the power of Kofukuji Temple became bigger.
Syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism was advanced from around the year 1000.
Kofukuji Temple also began to be operated together with Kasuga Taisha Shrine.
The power of Kofukuji tempered a little when politics came to be carried out by samurai since around 1600.
In the Meiji era the government separated Shinto and Buddhism.
(It is from 1868 to 1912 in the Meiji era.)
Haibutsu Kishaku (a movement to abolish Buddhism) was started.
Temples in various places were destroyed.
Kofukuji Temple was also in danger of survival.
Since around 1900 the national cultural property protection policy began, Kofukuji Temple was able to escape the destruction.
It is approximately 0.7 mile (1200 m) from JR Nara station and approximately 0.3 mile (500 m) from Kintetsu Nara station to Nan'endo hall of Kofukuji temple.

      All
      Kondo Hall
      Chukondo Hall
      Tokondo Hall
      Hokuendo Hall
      Nan'endo Hall
      Gojunoto Pagoda
      Sanjunoto Pagoda
      Site of the Nandaimon Gate
      Site of the Saikondo Hall
      Bell Tower
      National treasure Hall
      Hitokoto Kannon Hall
      Fudo Hall
      Oyuya(Great Bath House)
      Bodai'in Omido Hall
      Gakuzuka
      Guide board
      The Kofukuji temple had been big

Nan'endo Hall of Kofukuji temple

b)Sarusawaike Pond

Sarusawaike Pond was built about 1,300 years ago as a pond for the Houjoe of the Kohfukuji temple. The hojoe is that the captured fish release into a pond as a Buddhist ceremony prohibiting the killing."
On the lake side of Sarusawa Pond is a monument of Kinukake-yanagi.
There is a legend about a lady in Sarusawa pond.
Kinukake-yanagi is related to the legend.
It is approximately 0.7 mile (1200 m) from JR Nara station and approximately 0.5 mile (800 m) from Kintetsu Nara station to Sarusawaike Pond.

c)Unumejinjya Shrine

There is a small shrine named Unume-jinjya Shrine near Sarusawa-ike Pond.
This shrine is a little different from other shrines.
What the torii gate that should be in front of the building is behind!
It is approximately 0.7 mile (1100 m) from JR Nara station and approximately 0.3 mile (500 m) from Kintetsu Nara station to Unumejinjya Shrine.

d)Rokudo-no-Tsuji

e)52 stone steps named gojuni-dan

f)Kinukake-Yanagi

Nara Park

When the Meiji government was established, it instantly issued an order to separate Buddhism and Shinto, and subsequently issued an order to set Shinto to the religion of the country.
Also, many of the land owned by the temple was confiscated in the country.
Nara park was made in 1880 by servicing those lands.
Many parts of Nara Park are inside the former premises of Kofukuji temple.
Nara Park consists of the following seven parks.
(1)Noborioji-enchi
(2)Asajigahara-enchi
(3)Araike-enchi
(4)Ukigumo-enchi
(5)Kasugano-enchi
(6)Sarusawaike-enchi
(7)Chayama-enchi

Tourist attractions in Naramachi

After the city moved to Heijojyo many temples and shrines were built around it.
A town was formed around Todaiji, Kofukuji, Kasuga Taisha and Gango temple by people involved in the work of temples and shrines.
This town also developed as a town of commercial industry afterwards.
[ Gangoji Temple ]
[ Site of gojunoto Pagoda of Gangoji Temple ]
It was around the middle of the 6th century when Buddhism was introduced to Japan.
But it was not accepted soon.
About the end of the sixth century, as a powerful person, there was Soga No Umako and Mononobe No Moriya.
It is said that Mr. Mononobe was opposed to receiving Buddhism and Mr. Soga was aggressive in accepting Buddhism.
Mr. Soga finally won, though both were fighting.
Mr. Soga founded the temple called Hokoji in Asuka (in the present Asuka village in the central part of Nara prefecture) around the year 600 AD.
This was the first fully-fledged temple in Japan.
At that time, the capital was in Asuka.
And in 710 the capital moved to the northern part of Nara prefecture (present Nara city).
Hokoji was relocated accordingly.
At that time, the name of the temple was changed to Gankoji.
Upon relocation, the building itself was not relocated.
And the remaining building became Asukaji temple.
Gangoji temple was great until the Nara era.
However, Gango-ji temple has gradually declined since around the 10th century.
The former precincts of Gango-ji temple developed as a town around Kofukuji temple, Kasugataisha shrine and Todaiji temple.
The majority of the current Naramachi is in the former precincts of Gangoji temple.

[ Koshindo-hall ]
There are the following legends in Naramachi Town.
Plague was rife around 700.
Gomyo priest prayed to the Buddha to stop the plague.
On January 7th, Shomen Kongo appeared and said "I have known your sincerity, I will stop the plague."
The plague subsided shortly afterwards.
The day of having the divine revelation was "Year of Koshin", "Month of Koshin", "Day of Koshin".
Ever since then, people enshrined Shomen Kongo and prayed that they will be able to live healthy by getting rid of the "Sanshi" said to bring ills.
It is approximately 0.9 mile (1400 m) from JR Nara station and approximately 0.7 mile (1100 m) from Kintetsu Nara station to Koshindo hall.

Koshindo-hall in Naramachi

Tourist attractions on sanjodori street and around it

    a)Isagawa Jinja Shrine

    b)Jokyoji Temple

    c)Rin Jinja

    c)Sanjo-dori Street

      Rinjinja shrine
      Autumn leaves near Kofuku-ji temple on Sanjo-dori street
      The erstwhile zero milestone of Nara prefecture
      Gokosatsuba(the site of the notice board)
      Sanjo-dori Street
      Kintetsu Nara Station
      Higashimuki Shopping Mall
      Daiso of 100-yen shop
      Mochiidono Centergai(Mochiidono Shopping Mall)

     [ Food ]
      Curry
      Katsudon
      Tendon
      Curry udon noodles
      Rice cake made by Nakatanido in Nara
      Kaitenyaki
      Kintsuba and Kuri-manju of Japanese confectionary
      Botamochi and Ohagi
      A bun called anpan
      Barley tea
     
     [ Local Speciality and Souvenir ]
      Sweets Mikasa-yaki
      Fude(japanese brush) and sumi(japanese ink)
      Limited Japanese sweets simulating a camellia flower

Tourist Spots & Food

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