Nara Prefecture is located roughly in the center of Honshu, the largest of the four main islands of the Japanese archipelago, in the Kansai region. Its capital is the city of Nara, the territory of the prefecture is landlocked. The climate here is mild and humid, with snowless winters.
The territory of modern Nara Prefecture was previously called Yamato, after the name of the first Japanese centralized state, and since ancient times has been the scene of both mythological and historical events. In 710, Nara became the first permanent, non-nomadic capital of Japan and remained in this status until 784, when the capital, also on a permanent basis, was moved to the city of Heian-kyō, or Kyoto ("Western Capital"). According to the name of the city in Japanese history, there is a separate historical period of Nara (710 - 784). After the transfer of the capital, Nara did not lose its important status for the country, primarily due to its majestic temple complexes, which have timeless and national significance. Since then, the city has also been called "Nanto" ("Southern Capital"), which emphasizes its special status.
By the time it was established as the capital, several Shinto shrines already existed on the territory of the city. And during the capital period, a number of majestic Buddhist temples were erected here, which became historical and religious monuments, thanks to which the architectural structures of Nara received the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nara as a city was built in an orderly manner, in the image and likeness of the then capital of China, the city of Changyan.
Traveling around the city is impossible without visiting the Deer Park, where many almost tame, but at the same time wild deer live. According to legends, all of them are descendants of the divine deer, on which Emperor Jimmu descended from heaven to earth in this very place.
The Buddhist temple Kofuku-ji with its famous five-tiered pagoda 55 meters high, which is one of the symbols of the ancient capital, was moved to Nara with its declaration of capital from Kyoto. This is the main temple of the Hosso school of Buddhism.
The majestic Todai-ji Temple, belonging to another Buddhist school, Kegon, was erected in 725. Its name means "Great Eastern Temple" and it is the largest wooden structure in the world. The temple is dedicated to the Buddha of Endless Light, and his huge bronze statue is located in the interior.
Separately, it is worth highlighting the Shinto shrine - Kasuga Taisha Shrine. On the temple grounds there is a Japanese cedar tree that is over a thousand years old.
The city regularly hosts Buddhist or Shinto festivals. In particular, in February, a ritual of expelling demons takes place, and in April, Buddha's birthday is celebrated.
To Nara from Tokyo you can take the Shinkansen super express to Kyoto Station, which takes about three hours, and from there take the local express about half an hour to Nara Station.