Top things to do

Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Nara

Tōdai-ji

Nara's star attraction is the famous Daibutsu (Great Buddha), centrepiece of this grand temple on the Unesco World Heritage List, with origins going back to AD 728. The Daibutsu statue itself is one of the largest b…
Top Choice Shinto Shrine in Nara

Kasuga Taisha

Founded in the 8th century, this sprawling shrine, on the Unesco World Heritage List, lies at the foot of a deeply forested hill, where herds of sacred deer await handouts. Until the end of the 19th century, Kasuga …
Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Nara

Hōryū-ji

Hōryū-ji was founded in 607 by Prince Shōtoku, considered by many to be the patron saint of Japanese Buddhism. It's a veritable shrine to Shōtoku, renowned not only as the oldest temple in Japan, but also as a repos…
Top Choice Museum in Nara

Nara National Museum

This world-class museum of Buddhist art is divided into two sections. Built in 1894 and strikingly renovated in 2016, the Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall & Ritual Bronzes Gallery displays a rotating selection of ab…
Top Choice Izakaya in Nara

Washokuya Happoh

This large, cheery, modern farmhouse-style spot salutes Nara as sake's birthplace, in both drink and food. Alongside izakaya standards like sashimi and karaage (fried chicken pieces), we loved the dishes marinated i…
Top Choice Burgers in Nara

Sakura Burger

This unassumingly gourmet burger joint is steps north of Kintetsu Nara Station. Expect a lunchtime queue for burgers, sandwiches and hot dogs with your choice of toppings. The namesake Sakura burger comes piled with…
Buddhist Temple in Nara

Kōfuku-ji

Another of Nara's sights on the Unesco World Heritage List, this temple was founded in Kyoto in AD 669 and relocated here in 710. The original Nara temple complex had 175 buildings, and although only a dozen remain …
Buddhist Temple in Nara

Yakushi-ji

Another Nara site on the Unesco World Heritage List, this temple houses some of the most beautiful Buddhist statues in all Japan. It was established by Emperor Temmu in 680 as a prayer for the healing of his wife. W…
Buddhist Temple in Nara

Tōshōdai-ji

This temple was established in 759 by the Chinese priest Ganjin (Jian Zhen), who had been recruited by Emperor Shōmu to reform Buddhism in Japan. The temple grounds are pleasantly wooded and mossy, making a good con…
Arts & Crafts in Nara

Nipponichi

From humble beginnings as a linen merchant in 1716, this retailer has evolved to repurpose traditional craft-making (clothing, towels, housewares and accessories) for the 21st century in Japan's sweet spot of cool, …