As I already covered the Giant Buddha in a previous article, this one is going to cover the rest of the park. If you want to read about the Buddha or about the deer at Nara, you can find out about those by following the link at the side of the page.
Using Tōdai-ji temple as a starting point, follow the path to the left, carrying on around the park. If you’re heading back towards the giant gate, you’re going the wrong way.
The main path will lead you towards a shrine and more old buildings. It’s a nice area to take some photos or sit in the shade if it’s a sunny day.
Continue in the same sort of direction and you’ll reach the next main building, Nigatsu-Do. On the side of the building are a set of stairs. By the point in our journey I was feeling tired, but I was determined to climb them. It was a great thing that I did, because the top floor of Nigatsu-Do has a balcony with a stunning view of Nara.
From here we walked along the top of the park, enjoying the shade of the trees and the sight of cherry blossoms. There are a number of different paths to take and you can head more in to the forest for a hike if you want to. We eventually circled back to where we started, heading to our next major landmark.
Although Kofukuji Temple and the 5-storied pagoda, Horyuji Temple, are part of Nara Park it may feel like you are walking out of it a little bit. If you follow the same path we did, you’ll almost walk past the point where you started and then keep going. I should mention that there are plenty of maps and signs, so it’s pretty easy to find your way around.
This was actually my first time seeing a pagoda. They’re incredible tiered structures, made by buddhist monks. The fact they were built by hand makes their height all-the-more impressive. And the one at Nara is the second-tallest in Japan!
There is another shrine at Nara Park that we didn’t have time to see unfortunately. Kasuga Taisha sits close to the primeval forest and is Nara’s most important Shinto shrine. I’m really sad I wasn’t able to see it, but I always say that means I have a reason to go back.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
A number of buildings and locations in Nara Park make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site named “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara”. These include Todaiji, Kofukuji, Kasuga Taisha and the primeval forest itself.
So even if you don’t have time to see everything, you’ll still be able to say that you’ve visited a UNESCO site.