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18 Amazing Things to Do in NARA, Japan (2024 Edition)

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To fully immerse yourself in Japanese history and culture, check out this list of amazing things to do in Nara, Japan.

Nara is the capital city of Japan’s Nara Prefecture and located in south-central Honshu.

The city was the ancient capital of Japan about 1,400 years ago and is a popular destination to visit from Kyoto and Osaka.

Located around an hour away from each city, Nara is a temple-filled city with famous historical sites and shrines. Large parts of the area are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Things to Do in Nara, Japan

Nara isn’t Japan’s hotspot for adventure but the city carries a significant history and is worth visiting for anyone interested in seeing Japan’s unique past.

While you don’t necessarily need to spend a few days here, there are certainly plenty of things to see in Nara to fill your time if you want to take your time.

There is the world class Nara National Museum, festivals and forests, Nara Park, and two incredible temples: The Todai Ji Temple and the Kofuku Ji Temple.

READ MORE: Don’t miss our list of the best places to visit in Japan (including Nara, of course)!

There is so much fun stuff to do. Just book a train ride into a JR Nara Station and begin exploring! Kintetsu Nara Station is the most centrally located Nara station. Or organize a tour so you can enjoy everything being planned for you.

Book a customized tour with a local guide here:

1) Visit the Great Buddha in Todai Ji Temple

Todai ji Temple is a huge temple compound that was once one of the powerful Seven Great Temples and houses one of the largest bronze statues in the world, the Daibutsu (Great Buddha).

The statue was unveiled in 752 upon the completion of the Daibutsu-den (Great Buddha Hall) built to house it.

Over the years, both have been damaged but the present statue was recast in the Edo Nara period.

The Daibutsu-den is the world’s largest wooden building, though the current structure which was rebuilt in 1709, is only two-thirds of the size of the original.

Daibutsu stands at 16m high and consists of 437 tonnes of bronze and 130 kg of gold.

It’s believed among historians that Emperor Shōmu ordered the Buddha to be built as a charm against smallpox, which had devastated Japan in earlier years.

Around the back of the statue is a wooden column with a hole through its base that is the same size as the Great Buddha’s nostrils.

A popular belief is those who can squeeze through the hole are assured of enlightenment….

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