Nara Prefecture is located at the center of Kii
Peninsula, the largest peninsula in Japan.
It is an inland prefecture.
Most of the cities are in Nara Basin at the northwest part of the
And Nara city is the prefectural capital. Osaka is located about 35 km west of Nara, and Kyoto is located about 50 km north of Nara.
The other areas in the prefecture are very mountainous, so they have very few flatlands.
The old name of Nara Prefecture is "Yamato".
Nara Basin was the Japan's first capital.
From the 3rd to the 4th centuries, a kindom formed in this area spontaneously. It is said that the kings are the origin of current Emperor's Family.
And Shinto was born, and Buddhism was introduced from China in the 6th century.
As a result, many shrines, temples and ancient burial mounds were built.
In the late 7th century, the framework of a nation were created, and
the Japan's first full-scale capital was set up on current Nara city in
But the capital was moved to Nagaoka-kyo near Kyoto in 784, and the period that Nara was the Japan's capital had been fot only 74 years in the long history of Japan.
It is very easy to visit Nara.
JR lines and Kintetsu Lines lead to Nara city and the other main cities from Osaka and Kyoto, and the trains run frequently.
Nara Prefecture has no airport.
|Average value 1981-2010||JAN||FEB||MAR||APR||MAY||JUN||JUL||AUG||SEP||OCT||NOV||DEC|
|Highest Temperature (deg C)||8.7||9.6||13.4||19.8||24.1||27.2||30.8||32.6||28.2||22.2||16.5||11.4|
|Lowest Temperature (deg C)||-0.2||-0.1||2.3||7.4||12.5||17.5||21.8||22.6||18.8||12.1||6.4||1.9|
|Mean monthly rainfall (mm)||50||63||103||98||144||189||165||112||163||111||71||47|
Shoso-in treasure house /2/
Kasuga-taisha shrine /3/
Wakakusayama (Mount Wakakusa) /4/
Nara Park /5/
Nara National Museum /6/
Kofukuji temple /7/
Gangoji temple /8/
Shin-Yakushiji temple /9/
Naramachi area /10/
Heijo Palace Site /11/
Toshodaiji temple /12/
Yakushiji temple /13/
Wakakusayama (Mount Wakakusa) is a gentle hill to the east
of central Nara city. On the top, there is an ancient tomb.
Since old time, it had been said that bad things would happen unless the grass on the hill was burnt by January. Because they had thought that many ghosts were in the tomb.
So someone had set fire every year, then Todaiji temple had sometimes been exposed to a hazard.
Since 1760, the burning had been done under control of the government, then it has been the main event of January in Nara city.
The burning is held in the evening, and about 33 hectares of field are burnt.
Omizutori is the annual Buddhist ceremony held at
Nigatsudo temple in Todaiji, and the formal name is "Shunie".
The first ceremony was held in 752, and the ceremony in 2001 was the 1,250th anniversary.
The ceremony has various events, but all of them are held in Nigatsudo by only the priests.
At night, they run along the upper-level corridor of the hall holding large torches.
We visitors can see only it in front of Nigatsudo. People believe exposure to the sparks brings good fortune.
Especially, March 12th is most important day, and larger torches appear in this night.
This festival announces spring has come to the ancient capital city of Nara.
In Nara Park, many wild deer live. And this event is held
in this season every year.
The horns of male deer have become large since summer. They are in a state of estrus in autumn, and get wild.
So the horns are cut to keep the visitors from an injury.
This event is not just a work, and has been held as a shrine ritual since 1671. The cut horns are dedicated to the shrine.
It is the annual festival of Kasuga-taisha shrine. It has
been held every year since 1136.
The highlight is the parade called "Owatari-shiki" in the December 17th.
Many people wearing the costumes in the Middle ages parade along the main streets in central Nara city.
Additionally, various traditional events such as horse racing, traditional dancing, noh, sumo wresling are performed as shrine rituals.
Kakinoha means persimmon leaf, and Kakinoha-zushi is a
piece of sushi wrapped with a persimmon leaf.
Nara Prefecture is far from sea, so fish was one of the valuable foods. Fish was carried after salting from Wakayama Prefecture.
People in Nara Prefecture made sushi with using the salted fish. To keep for a few days, the sushi was wrapped with a persimmon leaf with antimicrobial property.
They are sold at the shops in main JR stations, and some restaurants in Nara city serve them.
Chagayu means "kayu of tea".
Kayu is the rice cooked in much water. It is mushy and digests well, and is one of the Buddhist cuisine.
Nara Prefecture has created Japanese tea since the 9th century.
In the Middle Ages, they tried to use tea instead of water when kayu was made.
Since that, Chagayu became a popular dish in Nara.
There are many restauranus serving Chagayu in Nara city, and the hotels sometimes serve it as breakfast.