Within the temple’s sparse and elegant main hall, a statue of the Yakushi Nyorai (the Buddha of Healing) surrounded by the statues of the twelve divine generals is enshrined. It is said that the statue of Basara Daisho (one of the twelve divine generals) is the finest work of the Tempyo era sculptures.
Statue of Basara Daisho in Shinyakushiji Temple
After walking the long approach to the shrine passing through the Ichi-no-torii (First gateway), the main shrine buildings, painted in vivid vermillion, appear amongst the green avenue of Japanese cedar trees.
The main shrine buildings and inner cloisters are decorated with Tsuritoro (Hanging lanterns ). Ishitoro (Stone lanterns) are placed on both sides of the approach to the shrine On the days of the Mantoro (Lantern festival) in February and August, all of the lanterns are lit,creating a fantastic atmosphere.
Nara Park is full of beautiful greenery and is always an easy-to-access point for your sightseeing tour of the ancient capital of Nara.
In the vast area covering around 500 hectares, deer freely walk around in the park and are familiar with visitors. Nara Park is famous around the world as a Deer Park .
Mt. Wakakusa is a small mountain that is 342m high and you can reach the summit relatively quickly.
From the mountain summit, you can enjoy panoramic views of Todaiji Temple’s Great Buddha Hall and the five-storied pagoda at Kohfukuji Temple.
Mt. Wakakusa Yamayaki” fire festival and fireworks display held every January is a magnificent seasonal event to highlight the winter in the ancient capital of Nara.
Mt. Wakakusa Yamayaki
Mt. Kasuga Primeval Forest has been protected as a sacred precinct of Kasugataisha Shrine for over 1,100 years, when hunting and tree -felling in this forest were prohibited . Massive trees including Japanese cedar grow broad and form the primeval forest. These mountains are the habitat for some exotic animals, including forest green tree frogs, and the natural- treasure Tailless Bushblue butterfly.
It is said that Buddhist monks Saicho and Kukai both studied at this temple.
Having been located at various places, including Nukatabe (Yamato Koriyama), Kudara (Koryocho) and Asuka, the temple played the role of one of the leading national temples, until Todaiji Temple was established.
It is famed for the Konine Festival during January, where visitors are given hot Japanese sake in a bamboo cup (sasazake), said to have efficacy to prevent cancer.
Nara National Museum consists of two buildings: the New West Wing that was built in the log house style of the Shosoin Repository during the Showa era, and the main building that one of the remaining halls of the former Imperial Museum of Nara, established in 1894.
The museum houses many national treasures, including representative works of Buddhist art, and masterpieces of sculptures, paintings, as well as art and craft works.
Yoshikawa Kanpo, a Japanese-style painter and specialist in the study of folklore history , donated his collection of modern Japanese-style paintings, Ukiyoe (Japanese woodblock prints) and art craftworks, to the Nara Prefectural Museum of Art.
The museum houses many valuable items covering the period extending from the Kamakura period to the present day in addition to its Yura collection, Ohashi collection and Tomimoto collection, and collaborates with international museums to hold art exhibitions for cultural exchange, as well as shows related to Nara.
The predecessor of Gangoji Temple was Asukadera Temple founded by Soga-no -Umako in the late 6th century.
When the capital was relocated to Heijokyo, the temple buildings were also transferred to their present site and renamed Gangoji Temple.
Since the ancient times, the temple has been worshipped by local people. In the precincts of the temple, many stone figures of the Buddha and folk materials have been discovered.
As well as its famous five-storied pagoda, the Kohfukuji Temple complex also includes the Tokondo Hall and the Museum of National Treasures.which exhibits the statue of Ashura (Fighting demon) and many other important national treasures. Traditional Japanese cultural ceremonies like Takigi Noh (night performances of Noh theatre), and Setsubun-no-Onioi (a ritual to drive away evil spirits on the day before the beginning of spring) are still held at the temple.
Todaiji Temple is one of the most symbolic buildings of Tenpyo era culture.
It includes many famous buildings such as the Great Buddha Hall, the largest wooden structure in the world, Hokkedo Hall where many impressive Buddhist sculptures are enshrined, and Nigatsudo Hall, where the traditional “Omizutori” (Water drawing) ceremony takes place annually. The grounds of Todaiji are so extensive you may need a whole day or more to explore thoroughly.
Shosoin Repository,regarded as the eastern terminal of the ancient Silk Road, houses more than 8,000 treasures including manuscripts, clothing ornaments, furniture and musical instruments from antiquity.
The Shosoin Exhibition presents a selection of treasures exhibited at Nara National annually in the fall.
In excavation research of Heijo Palace, it was found that this garden had been in the south-east corner of the palace during the Nara period.
This garden was used as a place for recreation, for parties of the Emperor and noblemen.
In the site of this garden, remains of the buildings located around the pond, bridges, stone beds are laid out at the bottom of the pond. The original masonry was also discovered, and the restoration project is currently in progress.
East Palace Garden after Restoration
Hokkeji Temple was one of the main convents in the Sahoji area.
It is said that the standing statue of the Eleven-faced Goddess of Mercy, the temple’s principal image of Buddha, was modeled on Empress Komyo. Its sensual posture is impressive.
A doll of a little dog made from cedar stick ashes and clay, and painted with whitewash is popular as a good-luck charm for safe birth delivery.
You can view the Heijo Palace’s remains as they were at the time of the evacuationthe excavation research. In addition, the hall exhibits miniature models of the Imperial Palace and government offices of the ancient era.
Uwanabe Kofun (tumulus) a large keyhole-shaped tomb mound in Hokkejicho, Nara city, was constructed in the middle of the Kofun period (tumulus period).
It is one of the Sakitatenami tumulus group which occupy a low plateau on the north side of the north side of Nara Basin.
The tumulus is 270m long and the upper circular part has a diameter of 140m. The lower part is 140m in length, and has a three-tiered structure. It is covered with fukiishi (a stone covering an old tomb), and has a row of haniwa clay figurines and double surrounding moats.
The name of the entombed is unknown
Konabe Kofun (tumulus) a large keyhole-shaped tomb mound in Hokkejicho, Nara city, was constructed in the middle of the Kofun period (tumulus period).
It is one of the Sakitatenami tumulus group which occupy a low plateau on the north side of Nara Basin.
The tumulus is 204m long and the upper circular part has a diameter of 126m. The lower part is 129m in length and has a three-tiered structure. It is covered with fukiishi (a stone covering an old tomb) and has a row of haniwa clay figurines.
The name of the entombed is unknown.
The Rajomon Gate, an important gate to the Heijokyo, stood at the south end of Suzakuoji Street that ran into the center of the capital in an east-west direction.
In 1935, a relic that appeared to be the foundation stone of Rajomon Gate was found at the bottom of the Sahogawa River. In 1972, the western edge of the platform of the gate was found during research
It is estimated that the scale of Rajomon Gate was about 33m wide, almost the same as Suzakumon Gate.
This place is currently used as Rajomon Gate Park.
Heijokyo was Japan’s first large-scale international city. It was constructed in a manner to imitate the Chang’an Palace of Tang Dynasty China at the northern edge of the Nara Basin in 710, when Empress Gemmei relocated the capital from Fujiwarakyo to govern the country under the Ritsuryo legal system.
It was 4.3km long in an east-west direction and 4.8km long north-to-south. In addition, it had a projecting sector called Gekyo that was 1.6km wide in an east-west direction, and 2.1km long north-to-south; its total area was 2,500 hectares.
In the center of Heijokyo, 74-meters wide Suzakuoji Street extended straight from Rajomon Gate, the south gate to the capital, in a northerly direction. The western and eastern area of this street was respectively called Ukyo and Sakyo.
The city planning of the capital was based on the Jobo system to layout the streets in a grid-like pattern. It is said that more than 100,000 people lived in Heijokyo during this period.
Between 740 and 745, the capital was relocated from place -to -place, but was finally returned to Heijokyo. In this period, the city thrived at the center of Japan’s political and economic life, nurturing the Tenpyo culture with aits highly cosmopolitan character that was described as being like “a flower in full bloom,” until the capital was relocated to Nagaokakyo in 784
The seated statue of the Yakushi Nyorai (Medicine Buddha) in the Kondo Hall is one of the masterpieces of Buddhist art, and the pattern on its pedestal is a combination of cultures from various countries including China, Greece and Persia.
The original eastern pagoda that was restored in the 1980’s, painted in brilliant vermillion and green.
Seated Statue of the Yakushi Nyorai
The quiet precincts of the temple house various buildings that represent the glorious Tenpyo culture, including the National- Treasure Kondo Hall, Kodo Hall and Koro Tower.
Suzakumon Gate is located to the south of the vast Heijo Palace site and has been restored to maintain its appearance the Nara period.
The gate was painted in brilliant ancient vermilion.
Its dignified appearance suggests how magnificent the ancient capital was 1,300 years ago.
Heijo Palace was 1.3km wide in an east-west direction, and 1km long in the north-south direction, and its total area was around 120ha, about 30 times larger than Koshien Stadium.
There were various facilities at the site, including the Emperor’s residence, buildings for administration and national ceremonies, offices for court officials and gardens for recreational activities.
This history was discovered through excavation and research for over 40 years, starting from 1955.
In addition, it is thought that many cultural properties including Mokkan (a narrow strip of wood on which an official message is written) are still under the soil of this site. Heijo Palace was registered as one of the UNESCO World-Heritage “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara” in 1998.
The Daigokuden was a building where the emperor’s throne was placed at the time of important ceremonies, including enthronement and the New Year’ court ceremonies.
The building was surrounded by corridors and towers.
The restoration projected was started by the Agency for Cultural Affairs and completed in 2009.
Miniature Model of the First Daigokuden Hall
Remains of the Easter Tower in the First Daigokuden Hall
Ooike Pond viewed from Yakushiji Temple
his large keyhole-shaped tomb mound, (tumulus) was constructed at the beginning to middle of the Kofun period and has the nickname of ‘Horaisan Kofun’.
The tumulus is 227m long and 15.6m high in total, and has the upper circular section with a diameter of 123m, and the lower section with a length of 129m.
It is said that the body of Emperor Suinin is buried here, though the tomb has not been identified by previous archeological research.
In ancient times, Saidaiji Temple was a large-scale temple which rivaled Todaiji Temple, but currently only a small part of the original precinct remains.
The remaining huge platforms and foundation stones remind tourists of ancient times.
This temple is famous for the Ochamori tea ceremony held in April and October.
The Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties is an independent administrative institution that conducts comprehensive research into cultural heritages comprehensive research into cultural heritages.
Nara was previously called Nanto in the ancient era, is the home of many ancient buildings, architecture and fine arts.
The institute was established to research the architectural and artistic heritage, as well as the remaining buried cultural properties.
In particular, the institute has produced results in the fields of research related to ancient Japan, with excavation research conducted at the Heijo Palace site, Asuka Palace site and Fujiwarakyu Palace site, as well as the development of various field-work and preservation techniques.
The temple attracted the interest of many people as the current Prince Akishino-no-miya and his family grew, and has been popular as a quiet, ancient temple for visitors to the Nara area.
There are many exquisite Buddhist statues in the main hall. In particular, the standing statue of Gigeiten is wonderful and looks elegiac.
This museum exhibits the remains of Heijo Palace found during excavation, as well as a model of the restored site.