The capital of Japan in the 700’s was a place called Nara.
These are the years when the national government gained strength and the Japanese prospered. The modern Japanese culture has roots going back to ancient Nara, which the ancient monuments located here help give insight to. Nara had an extensive system of roads based on a grid and was home to around 100,000 people.
Today, many of these ancient monuments have survived, including 6 Buddhist temples, a Shinto shrine, and 5 forests. There are 48 total Buddhist monuments just in the Horyuji area, so there is much for visitors to explore.
The Imperial Palace, called the Heijokyo-ato, is where the emperor oversaw the governmental activities when Nara was the capital of Japan. In 794, the capital was moved to Kyoto, and Heijokyo ended up being used as land for farming. Eventually, important temples were built, making the area a special place again.
The palace was forgotten about until 1889, when it was discovered. Gardens were planted based on how they used to be, with ongoing evacuations still happening today.
The Toaiji Temple is a beautiful temple that is guarded by Nio sculptures, dating back to the 12th century. The Great Buddha Hall, is a wooden structure that is one of the largest existing ones in the world. The Great Buddha is the tallest in Japan and was built from over a few hundred tons of bronze. There are a few interesting museums for visitors to explore, along with a garden nearby.
Mount Kasuga Primeval Forest
The Mount Kasuga Primeval Forest is part of ancient Nara and is the same as it has been for over a thousand years. It’s located behind the Kasugataisha Shrine, home to a few hundred different kinds of trees and animals.
No hunting or logging has been allowed in this forest since the year 841, which is impressive. Visitors can hike through this great forest and see a waterfall with caves that have Buddha figures carved inside.
7 sites in this World Heritage
- Kasuga-Taisha and Kasugayama Primeval Forest
- Nara Palace Site
Kasuga-Taisha and Kasugayama Primeval Forest
Nara Palace Site
- UNESCO Official Site
- Nara's World Heritage Sites | Nara Travelers Guide
- UNESCO's Historical Monuments of Ancient Nara | All About Japan
- World Heritage Sites in the old Japanese capital of Nara
- Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara - Travel World Heritage
- Sightseeing In And Around Nara, The UNESCO World Heritage City | MATCHA - JAPAN TRAVEL WEB MAGAZINE