Did you know that Nara has a history 100 years older than Kyoto?

serials nara

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04/08/2017 Festivals&Events

The beautiful Bugaku and Noh play are performed at the stage on the pond in Nara Tōdai-ji temple to commemorate a deed of Emperor Shomu!

’The Emperor Shomu Festival’ is held for Emperor Shomu, for his contribution to the construction of Tōdai-ji Temple and the Great Buddha, on every May 2, the anniversary of Emperor Shomu’s death at Tōdai-ji temple in Nara Prefecture. I’ll show you Bugaku and Noh plays at the stage on the Kagami Pond in Todai-ji Temple.
Both are open to visitors at no charge!

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06/07/2015 Travel Destinations

You must visit, if you like Japanese history! The hidden village of warrior who prays a peace in Nara Japan.

The hidden village 'Yagyu', it takes only one hour from central Nara city by a bus. There has deep conection with Yagyu family who produced famous Japanese warrior.

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27/07/2017 Festivals&Events

Emperor Shomu Festival, Nara Tōdai-ji Temple. Don’t miss the 300-Buddhist monks’ procession!

The Emperor Shomu Festival is a Buddhist memorial service held annually for Emperor Shomu on May 2 at Tōdai-ji Temple in Nara Prefecture. The famous Great Buddha of Tōdai-ji Temple was built at the wish of Emperor Shomu, the emperor who ruled during Nara Period (710-794). This Buddhist memorial service is held at the Ten-no Hall at the eastern side of the Nandaimon Gate. Ten-no Hall is usually closed to the public, but it is open for worship exclusively during the memorial service. You also can appreciate a procession of a group of Buddhist monks, Japanese court dance and music, and Noh play (Japanese traditional masked dance-drama) at the stage on the Kagami Pond.

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23/01/2015 Travel Destinations

Play hide-and-seek with a ”deer in Todaiji Temple”: A deer in Nara during the morning

deer in Todaiji Temple

Hello, as you can see, I’m deer. I live in Todaiji Temple in Nara. People recognize me as a sacred being because the God,“Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto” rode me here. Well, I don’t really care for many things, just as long as I can get rice crackers. Guarding the temple is my everyday duty. Yeah, I sometimes feel like I live in such a good place. Going on patrol in the morning… Hmm…I got bored. Take a break. Won’t you play hide and seek with me? Find me! Oops, I need to disguise myself! Can you tell which one is me? I’m here! Still can’t tell? I think I’m giving you a big […]

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12/08/2014 Travel Destinations

Interacting with “wild deer” in Nara.

Be careful when feeding the deer with deer crackers! A large number of tourists visit the city famous for its various UNESCO World Heritage Sites. However, I shall not go into that today. Instead, today I will introduce you the deer of Nara Park. Since the ancient times, the Nara deer have been considered to be messengers of the gods of the Kasuga Grand Shine, and therefore highly valued. The deer living at Nara Park have been designated a national treasure. Nara’s nearly 1200 deer are all wild animals that have not been tamed. Wild deer are wary of their surroundings and do not trust humans easily. However, the deer […]

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19/03/2015 Travel Destinations

All creatures take a rest at『 Sarusawa-ike pond 』, near the Kofuku-ji temple

Naramachi might be even nicer than visiting major temples. Taking a break at the Sarusawa-ike pond after venturing around Naramachi. Nara is home to Naramachi, where many Machiya (town houses) from Edo period still stand. There’s a nice area for venturing about, a cafe and Japanese cake shop, and a restaurant on this historic street. After traveling Naramachi, I took a short break at the edge of Sarusawa-ike pond. There are benches around the pond where you can enjoy a poetic view with willows and Koufuku-ji temple’s five-story pagoda. When you look onto the pond, you can see turtles and carp in a relaxed state. Actually, it is not a […]

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17/03/2015 Travel Destinations

『Nara』travel to meet the Sake god and the roots of refined Sake

The ornamental ball represents newly produced Sake that is made from cedar leaves. Have you ever seen the large ornamental ball hanging under the eave of a Sake-shop? The name of it is Sugidama, and is a symbol for the Sake-shop. The Sugidama is made from cedar leaves and is hung under the eaves of Sake-shops to announce that new sake has been made. The Sugidama’s changing of color from green to brown represents the maturity of the Sake and is also a signboard for the Sake-shop’s announcement. Reason for making the Sugidama from cedar leaves Omiwa jinja shrine is the oldest shrine in Japan and is located in Nara. […]

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10/06/2015 Travel Destinations

Let’s get in touch with the beautiful lotus flower at Toshodaiji-temple in Nara

The lotus flower blooms at Toshoudai-ji temple The high priest Jianzhen from Tang founded Toshoudai-ji temple during the Nara period. It’s a historical monument from ancient Nara city and was designated as a Unesco world heritage site in 1998. Lotus flowers have been cultivated here ever since the temple was founded. There’s about 130 lotus water bowls with two lotus ponds on the temple grounds. You can enjoy them in bloom from the middle of June to end of July in their water bowls, and from the middle of June to September 1st in the lotus ponds. The Buddha statues on a lotus stage Upon entering to the Kondo (Main […]

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29/06/2015 Travel Destinations

Let’s go to the Samurai’s village, Yagyu in Nara and eat traditional cuisine at “Jyubee Shokudo”!

Souvenir shop

Look at the restaurant’s sign… its logo is two Japanese bamboo hats! The Japanese swordsman’s home village of Yagyu takes about 1 hour to get to from the center of Nara city by bus. It takes about 50 minutes from Kintetsu’s Nara station and Jyube restaurant is just in front of the Yagyu-kami bus stop. Jyube restaurant serves Udon, Soba, various types of rice bowl dishes, and an edible wild plant meal. You can even enjoy eating a wild boar meal during the winter season. Its sign consists of the name of Jyube’s swordsman and two Japanese bamboo hats on a wooden sign. You might see its logo many times, […]

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08/07/2015 Travel Destinations

A famous meeting point at Kintetsu Nara station: The statue of “Gyōki”

Gyōki statue in front of Nara station

The statue of Gyōki was built in 1970 to celebrate the completion of redeveloping Kintetsu Nara station. Gyōki Bosatsu, standing in front of the Todai-ji Temple Daibutsu-den Hall, was used as a model for the station’s statue. The Kintetsu Nara stations’s statue was made with Akahada-yaki, Nara’s traditional porcelain. Even though thoughtless people destroyed it, it was reproduced in bronze in 1995. The square where Gyōki stands, is called “Gyōki-hiroba” and is known by local people as a famous meeting point.

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28/07/2015 Travel Destinations

The mysterious stone, “Ittoseki” passes down the legend of battle between a master of swordplay and a Tengu

Ittoseki 

The stone, Ittoseki is located at Amanotateiwa Shrine in Yagyu, Nara. This stone is known as a strangely shaped rock that passes down the legend of battle between Yagyu Sekishusai, a master of swordplay, and a Tengu (Japanese long-nosed goblin). It is said that the stone appeared the moment when Sekishusai killed the Tengu.

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27/08/2015 Travel Destinations

”Heijyo-kyo”, the capital of Japan during the Nara period and the Heijyo palace site ruins

Heijyo-kyo

The Heijo palace site was a central organization of Heijo-kyo in Nara city. It was the capital of Japan during the Nara period (710~784). The Heijyo place site was registered as cultural property to the ancient capital of Nara, a world heritage site. It was first registered from archaeological ruins.

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27/10/2015 Travel Destinations

Play with old world Japanese toys at the “Naramachi Mechanical Toy Museum”!

The Naramachi Mechanical Toy Museum

The Naramachi Mechanical Toy Museum is an interactive facility where you can play with old toys inside a traditional Japanese house built in 1890. A workshop for making mechanical toys through traditional techniques is held every month at a studio next to the museum. There are 200 different kinds of mechanical toys and they are replaced every 2 months.

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31/10/2015 Travel Destinations

A celebration for rebuilding “Kasuga Taisha”, built in Nara 1300 years ago.

Hiwada dedicatory parade for offering sand

A ceremony for rebuilding the main shrine called the “60th Shikinenzoutai”, was held in Nara on the 17th and 18th of October. This dedicatory parade was to offer hiwada (cypress bark) and sand, and is held every 20 years. Local people and contributors from all over Japan offer hiwada to repair the roof, and sand to spread in the inner shrine and rear hall.

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18/11/2015 Travel Destinations

Amazing craftsmanship at the Nara Craft Museum

A work of art created by carving a single piece of wood

The Nara Craft Museum, or “Nara Kogeikan”, is a museum that exhibits the work of specially chosen Nara artists. I went to the craft festival, held between the 27th of October to the 3rd of November, 2015. There were 38 new works of art, and I was able to see the “Akishino” hand knitting technique, a workshop on making ceramics, lacquer ware, and “ittobori”, a work of art created by carving a single piece of wood.

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13/02/2016 Travel Destinations

A helpful tourist information center in Nara, Part 1: Local information and cute “Shikamaro-kun” products!

Did you know that there are three information centers on a busy street in Nara? I’d like to introduce one tourist information center in Nara. It’s located between JR Nara station and Nara Kintetsu station on Sanjo street. The guide is offered in English and Japanese. They also have many Shikamaro-kun souvenirs available for purchase.

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17/02/2016 Travel Destinations

A helpful tourist information center in Nara, Part 2: The General Tourist Information Center at Kintestu Nara station is very convenient!

A General tourist information center at Kintestu Nara station

This tourist center is inside the Kintetsu Nara station and they always have English speaking staff available.

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19/02/2016 Travel Destinations

A helpful tourist information center in Nara, Part 3: It’s right by JR Nara station! Nara city General Tourist Information Center speaks 4 languages!

Nara city General Tourist Information Center

The Nara city General Tourist Information Center is considered “The best” tourist information center by the Japanese Tourism Department. They speak 4 different languages and it’s available anytime. The building was renovated on December 1st of last year and new booths are open.

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03/04/2016 Culture  Festivals&Events  Travel Destinations

Deer herding to the beautiful sounds of a horn in Nara!

Herding deer

Herding deer started in 1892 with the establishment of a shelter for deer called Rokuen. The building was lost during the war, but rebuilt, and they hold events to interact with Nara’s wild deer.

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08/06/2016 Travel Destinations

A Bonsai Exhibition with 130 kinds of Japanese plums at Sugawara Tenmanguu, the sacred shrine for wisdom in Nara!

ume

The god of wisdom, Michizane Sugawara, is enshrined in Sugawara Tenmanguu, and every spring (February to March) they hold a Bonsai exhibition with 130 different kinds of plums. The plum has a special meaning to Michizane Sugawara, and the exhibition is about how his life relates to it.

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08/07/2016 Travel Destinations

Horyuji Temple was built 1,300 years ago and is a mysterious wooden building

Horyuji Temple

Horyuji temple is the oldest wooden building and was established by Prince Shotoku. It was designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1993. Nara’s Todaiji Temple was built during the Nara period (710 to 794) and is more famous, but Horyuji temple actually has older history dating back 1400 years, and was influenced by early Buddhist arts and the Asuka period (592 to 710). The Asuka period has international features that were influenced by Greece, India, and China. The Horyuji Temple is known in Japan for its mystery as well as Prince Shotoku. Today, I’d like to introduce the myths of this temple!

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27/09/2016 Foods & Drinks  Travel Destinations

Tasting sake at S. Imanishi Co., Ltd. Harushika brewery in Nara.

S. Imanishi Co., Ltd. is a Japanese sake brewery located about a 5-minute walk from Gangoji temple (A World Heritage Site). The brewery is behind the store where “Harushika” sake and various goods are sold.
You can enjoy tasting five different types of seasonal sake. The brewery is a great place to visit. Imanishi shoin is located next door and was registered as an Important Cultural Property in 1959.

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12/10/2016 Travel Destinations

Offering a more convenient and comfortable trip! The Kuroneko Nara TABI information center.

クロネコならTABI

Kuroneko Nara TABI is an information center in Nara. It is operated by Yamato Transport Co., Ltd, a popular Japanese courier. The center’s services vary from local information to delivery services. The center is authorized by the Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO) as a place for official tourist information. The staff speaks both English and Japanese.

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19/01/2017 Travel Destinations

The Great Buddha is surprisingly big! The beautiful statues at Nara Todai-ji temple.

title_daibutsu

Nara’s famous Buddha statue is a colossal piece of artwork by 8th century craftsmen. How large is it? Its palm is 2.56 meters and its total height is 18 meters!

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07/08/2015 Festivals&Events

An area of ice where the God of ice is enshrined, “Himuro Shirayuki” Festival

People and the ice to freeze before the precincts.

The god of ice is enshrined at Himuro Shrine, Nara Prefecture and is worshipped by wholesalers of ice. Its festival began in 2014 to wish for the prosperity of shaved ice.

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24/01/2015 Foods & Drinks

What is the ancestor’s wisdom of “Kakinoha-zushi” , the cuisine traditionally inherited in Nara.

kakinohazushi

Opening the package is fun! What is “Kakinoha-zushi”, a local dish in Nara? “Kakinoha-zushi”(or Persimmon leaves sushi) is different from what you may know as “sushi”. It is wrapped neatly like a present, and is a local cuisine inherited in Nara. Its history dates back to Edo period. Nara is an area where doesn’t face the ocean, so the merchants at the time put lots of salt on the fish to prevent from decay when carrying them from the port of Wakayama Pref because there was no such refrigerators like today. However, the fish get too salty when arriving at Nara, and people cannot eat them no matter how they […]

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01/07/2015 Foods & Drinks

“Houba-zushi” is sushi wrapped in a leaf and is a local food of Yagyu village in Nara.

houba-zushi

Wrapped sushi with a magnolia hypoleuca tree leaf What do you imagine when hearing the word “Sushi”? You may imagine a ball of rice topped with a slice of raw fish. Nara uses leaves to wrap its sushi and is a local food. The most famous is called Kakinoha-zushi. There is another type of wrapped sushi that is unknown to most people in Japan. This particular sushi is wrapped with a large magnolia hypoleuca leaf. Eating Houba-zushi with a magnolia hypoleuca harvested in yagyu village. Houba-zushi (wrapped sushi) was born in May 2001 at the guesthouse, ‘Kubota-tei’ in Yagyu. It was originally the “Hougashiwa-bentou” that was wrapped with magnolia hypolecuca […]

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04/10/2015 Goods

“Substitute monkey”, the amulet that’s hung in front of houses in Nara.

Substitute monkey

The Substitute monkey, or Migawari-saru is a red stuffed toy that is hung in front of houses in Nara. The tradition of hanging this amulet is said to have started during the Edo period in Nara. The charm usually has a series of monkeys on a string. I’d like to introduce the origin of this monkey and where you can buy them.

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