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NARA Prefecture

Area: 3,691 km2
Population: 1,383 million
Region: Kinki
Capital: Nara

photo by SteFou!


Nara Prefecture is a prefecture in the Kansai region of Japan. The capital is the city of Nara.
Nara Prefecture has the distinction of having more UNESCO World Heritage listings than any other prefecture.

NARA CITY
Nara is an ancient capital city in Nara Prefecture, Kansai region of Japan. In 2010 the city celebrated its 1300th anniversary. The city is located less than one hour from Kyoto and Osaka.
A former capital of Japan between 710-784 AD, Nara is home to many important scenic and historical treasures, which are attractively preserved within Nara Park and neighborhoods like Naramachi.
WHAT TO DO AND WHAT TO SEE
There are many must-see sites in Nara Prefecture.
Nara Park, located within the center of the Nara city, is a large park which is also home to hundreds of freely roaming deer,

Todaiji Temple, is the world’s largest wooden building. Once the most powerful Buddhist temple in Japan, Todaiji now houses the country’s largest bronze Buddha.

Isuien Garden, is a lovely Japanese garden containg a number of small ponds and tea houses.

Kasuga Taisha is Nara’s most celebrated shrine, famous for its many lanterns, which are lit twice a year during the Lantern Festivals in early February and mid August.

Kofukuji Temple, a handful of buildings including two pagodas of great historical value.

National Museum contains many treasures from around Japan, including Buddhist statues, paintings and ceremonial objects.

Naramachi, a former merchant district that has many beautifully preserved long, narrow townhouses that served as both shops and living quarters for local merchants after the 15th century.

Horyuji Temple is one of the country’s oldest temples. Several of its buildings date from the 7th century and are the world’s oldest surviving wooden structures.

Yakushiji, an ancient temple complex that contains an original three-storied pagoda.
GETTING THERE
By plane
Nara does not have its own airport; most visitors arrive via either Kansai International Airport or Osaka's Itami Airport (for domestic flights).
From Kansai Airport, Airport Limousine buses run to the two Nara train stations every hour. the trip takes approximately 1.5 hours.
Limousine buses connect Itami Airport to the two Nara train stations for ¥1440; the ride takes about one hour.

By train
From Kyoto Station, both the JR Nara Line and the private Kintetsu Kyoto Line will get you to Nara quickly. The Kintetsu Nara Station is better located than the JR Nara Station, and all-reserved Tokkyū trains leave Kyoto twice an hour, making the run to Nara in 35 minutes.
The fastest route from Osaka is to take the private Kintetsu Nara Line from Namba Station.

If traveling between Kyoto, Nara and Osaka consider purchasing the Kansai thru-pass which enables unlimited travel for 2 or 3 days on private railways, buses and subways (not-JR) in the Kansai area.

By bus
As Nara is a major tourist attraction, there are a good number of buses that run between Nara and other locations throughout Japan, which can result in significant savings when compared to train fares.
CLIMATE/ TEMPERATURE
In the Nara Basin the climate has inland characteristics, as represented in the bigger temperature variance within the same day, and the difference of summer and winter temperatures. Winter temperatures average about 3 to 5 °C, and 25 – 28 °C in the summer with highest reaching close to 35 °C. There is not a single year over the last decade (since 1990, up to 2007) with more than 10 days of snowfall recorded by Nara Local Meteorological Observatory.
The climate in the rest of the prefecture are mountainous, and especially in the south, with below −5 °C being the extreme minimum in winter. Heavy rainfall is observed in summer. The annual accumulated rainfall ranges as much as 3000 to 5000 mm, which is among the heaviest in Japan.
Spring and fall are both temperate and beautiful. The mountainous region of Yoshino has been popular both historically and presently for its beautiful cherry blossoms in the spring. In the fall, the southern mountains are equally beautiful with the changing of the oak trees.
WHAT TO WEAR
During summer, you should be fine if you wear a short-sleeved shirt, t-shirt or a dress, however a long sleeved shirt is highly recommended if you choose to go near water or to the mountains.
In the winter, be sure to bring warm clothes such as winter coat or jacket, hat, scarf and gloves.
For the spring and autumn a light jacket or a sweater should keep you warm.
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