8 Interesting Facts about the City of Nara, the Charm of Japan, which was once the capital city

8 Interesting Facts about the City of Nara, the Charm of Japan

Although not as popular as Tokyo or Kyoto, the city of Nara was once the center of the Japanese government with various important noble figures living there. This historical city has many ancient temples and castles that are more than a thousand years old and are rich in stunning natural scenery.

Choosing Nara as a tourist destination will also promise an anti-mainstream trip that will be very memorable if one day visits the Sakura Country. To get to know more closely what kind of city is quite close to Kyoto and Osaka, here are eight summaries of interesting facts about it that you need to know.

  1. Nara was the capital city of Japan from 710 – 784 AD. For 74 years, this city has been the source of various arts and literature

The design of the city of Nara is said to have imitated a similar style from the Chinese capital Chang’an from the Tang dynasty. This city became the most developed and most powerful city in Japan thousands of years ago by being inhabited by the empire and noble figures. Of the 8 empresses who once ruled Japan, six of them ruled during the Nara period.

  1. Once designated as the first permanent capital city, the city of Nara has an older history and age than Kyoto

In 784 AD, the capital was temporarily moved from Nara to Nagaoka for 10 years. It was only after that, that Kyoto became the new capital of Japan for more than a millennium, earning it the nickname of the thousand-year capital.

It was stated that Buddhism was the reason behind the revocation of Nara as the capital, due to its influence which was considered too strong to interfere with political power and disturbed the empire. Feeling threatened, the transfer was finally carried out as a solution.

  1. Because of its history, this city is also decorated with many ancient buildings and historical places. Some are even designated as part of the world heritage by UNESCO

The Heijo Imperial Palace was the site of the center of government during the Nara period. These buildings are thousands of years old. Although now it has undergone repeated reconstructions, there are still some parts of it that are indeed from ancient times.

  1. Inside the Tōdai-Ji temple, there is a giant bronze Buddha statue that has ever been made

In addition, the main hall of Tōdai-Ji, or the so-called daibutsuden, holds the record for being the largest wooden structure in the world, although it was reconstructed in 1692 and the hall area was reduced from its original size. Tōdai-Ji itself is one of the most influential temples in Japan to this day.

  1. While at Kasuga Taisha shrine, about 3,000 bronze lanterns are adorning and hanging in every part of the shrine

The shrine is also decorated with stone lanterns on the path leading to the entrance gate. All the lanterns will be lit twice each year, namely at the lantern festival which occurs in early February and mid-August.

  1. Behind the Kasuga Taisha shrine, there is an ancient forest which is also a world heritage. This forest was once called sacred and was believed to be the abode of the gods

Since the year 841, the Kasuga forest has been closed and no one has entered it. During this very long period, the sacred forest was protected from human traces. It was only during World War II that access to the forest began to be opened and special trails were built for climbing.

Because it is almost untouched, the various plants and trees there are very old and rare. There are many Jizo and Buddha statues to be found along the trail. Some of them are believed to have been made in the 12th century.

  1. The deer is a symbol of the city of Nara and is very famous in Japan. You will be able to find them roaming freely almost all over the city

The Japanese believe that the deer are sacred symbols and messengers of the gods. Therefore, more than a thousand deer that are in Nara park, are placed there without a guardrail to restrain them. As a result of this, many deer are often found roaming outside the park to the city streets. Although it sounds wild, the animals there are classified as very tame and very used to human presence.

  1. Nara City is believed by most experts to be the first location where sake was first made

Sake has long been a culture and tradition in Japan. Not just alcoholic drinks, even in religious events, sake is often part of the offerings served to the gods.

As an ancient city and the first place in Japan where Buddhism thrived, Nara is believed to be the origin of sake. This refers to the fact that the drink’s original name was nicknamed “temple sake”.

So, those were eight interesting facts covering Japan’s first capital, Nara. How about you guys, are you interested in visiting this historical city or not?