During its 74-year reign as Japan’s first capital, Nara flourished to become one of Asia’s grandest cities. As the far eastern destination for the Silk Road, Nara absorbed ideas from other mainland Asian countries and developed into the grand diocese of Buddhism. Many of the historic buildings dating back to the 7th century still stand today protected within the 1300 acres of Nara Park. Over 1000 tame deer wander the park freely and are regarded by locals as messengers of the gods. You can purchase special wafer biscuits in the park to feed them but be warned, the deer may not wait to be offered the snacks!
Nara has a number of fascinating sites all within walking distance of each other including Todai-ji Temple with the world’s largest wooden building which houses the Great Buddha Vairocana, the world’s largest bronze Buddha image. Kofuku-ji Temple was founded in 669 and of the 175 original buildings a few remain well preserved; it’s five-storey pagoda rises against a backdrop of tranquil mountain scenery attracting artists from all over the country. Horyu-ji Temple is regarded as the cradle of Japanese Buddhism and home to the world’s oldest surviving wooden structures.