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Located in the Kansai region of Japan, Nara is one of Japan’s former capital cities from the 8th century and remains full of historic treasures, including 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The city of Nara, formerly known as Heijō-kyō, is the capital of the Nara Prefecture and a former capital city of Japan from 710 to 784. Only a short 45-minute train journey from Osaka or Kyoto, Nara makes for an exciting day trip to explore an abundance of ancient temples and to meet the sacred deer that roam through the streets and parks.
Famous in their own right, the Sika deer of Nara have become one of the most recognised symbols of any city in Japan. In the Shinto religion, the deer are said to be messengers of the gods and as such, are protected as national treasures to this day. They can be spotted in most corners of the city, but a wander into the huge expanse of Nara Park, a designated ‘Place of Scenic Beauty’, you'll find hundreds of deer living here. For 200 yen, you can purchase deer-safe crackers to feed the wild but mostly friendly animals and, if you're lucky, they'll bow their head in thanks.
One of the most well-known UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the region, the Todaiji Temple, is one the Seven Great Temples of Japan and is home to the world’s largest bronze statue, Daibutsu, standing at 15 metres tall. Constructed in 752, the temple was initially the head of all provincial Buddhist temples in Japan, but after having too much influence on government affairs, the capital was moved from Nara to Nagaoka in 784 to reduce the temple's power.
Nara offers a wealth of wonderful sights and experiences. What better way to explore them than on a Wendy Wu tour?
18 days from $11,820pp
14 days from $10,780pp
22 days from $13,390pp
We all enjoy a good fact or two - here are a few useful ones about Nara: