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Nara Highlights

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160 Kasuganochō, Nara-shi, Nara-ken 630-8212, Japan

Kasuga Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the most important Shinto complex in the Kansai region. An original part of Nara’s building plan, the shrine was rebuilt every 20 years as a purification rite. That process went on for...

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406-1 Zōshichō, Nara-shi, Nara-ken 630-8211, Japan

Huge and imposing—in fact, one of the largest wooden buildings in the world—the Todaiji was founded in 752 C.E. As big as the structure is now, it’s still only two-thirds of what it originally was. Besides being notable for its...

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1-1 Hōryūji Sannai, Ikaruga-chō, Ikoma-gun, Nara-ken 636-0115, Japan

Nara's Horyuji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, features the oldest surviving wooden buildings in the world. Initially built in 607 C.E.—and almost immediately burned down—the temple enshrines Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of Healing....

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48 Noboriōjichō, Nara-shi, Nara-ken 630-8213, Japan

Kofukuji was founded in the early 8th century as an element of the original plan of Nara. Its big draw is the two pagodas: The five-story one is the second-tallest in Japan, at 50 meters (or 164 feet). The three-story one is on Japan’s...

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1352 Takabatakechō, Nara-shi, Nara-ken 630-8301, Japan

Shin-Yakushiji is not as imposing as Nara’s other big attractions; it’s quieter and more contemplative. Originally founded in 747 C.E. by the Empress Komyo as a prayer for the health of her husband, the Emperor Shomu, this was once an...

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43 Shimomikadocho, Nara, Nara Prefecture 630-8365, Japan

The chefs here are specialists in unagi (freshwater eel), one of those foods that is both common and rare in Japan—you’ll see lots of unagi restaurants, but not that many that get it right. Unagi has a very delicate taste, and really,...

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29 Higashimuki Nakamachi, Nara, Nara Prefecture 630-8215, Japan

Higashimuki Shopping Street in Nara is a little more tourist-oriented than the standard pedestrianized retail district. A good place for arts, crafts, food items and tea accoutrements (Japan’s main tea district is just outside Nara),...