Seniors Visit Historic Nara, Japan
Senior travelers, one of the top tourist attractions in Japan is Nara, in south-central Honshu with a population of 360,000. Do you have your coffee? Let’s go to Japan.
The city has significant temples and artwork dating to the 8th century, when it was Japan’s capital. A huge bronze Buddha is displayed in a large wooden hall in Tōdai-ji temple, located in Nara Park, which is designated one of the “Places of Scenic Beauty” by the Japanese Government.
With its cantilevered buildings, manicured lawns and deer strolling the grounds, it is said that Todai-ji Temple is one of Japan’s must-see attractions. On the Park’s east side is the Shinto shrine Kasuga Taisha, which dates to 768 A.D. with more than 3,000 lanterns.
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Nara, once known as Heijo, was the first permanent capital of Japan, established in 710 and as such, home to the Japanese Imperial Family. The capital was moved to Nagaoka in 784 when the government was threatened by powerful Buddhist monasteries.
Seniors visitors can enjoy Yoshinoyama, known as the best cherry blossom viewing in Japan. Nara Park includes several sites that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Listing of “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara. Nara Park contains over 1,200 wild sika deer which were considered sacred, but today are considered a National Treasure.
With Eight Unesco World Heritage Sites, Nara is second only to Kyoto as a repository of Japan’s cultural legacy. The centerpiece is the Daibutsu, The Great Buddha, a giant statue 15 m/50 feet high, which is housed in the Great Buddha hall, one of the largest wooden buildings in the world.
Seniors Visit Oldest Existing Buddhist Temple
Nara is also compact: it’s quite possible to pack the highlights into one full enjoyable day. Horyu-ji Temple, which is said to have been built in the early 7th century, is known as the oldest existing Buddhist temple in Japan. The temple boasts of the world’s oldest wooden architecture, and there are many paintings and sculptures in its possession. The temple is inscribed as a World Cultural Heritage Site.
“Old Japan” is still easy to spot, from Great Buddha Hall to traditional ryokans and the serene Isuien Garden. Senior travelers enjoy taking walking tours of Nara, particularly in the historic Naramachi merchant area.
I learned that Nara is recognized as the birthplace of Japanese civilization. In retrospect, I regret that our group of 200 US educators did not put Nara on our agenda for a visit.
Seniors, visit with your travel agent about a visit to Nara. You will not be disappointed. That’s after you visit Tokyo of course. One simply can not go to Japan without a visit to the capital. We want to thank japan-guide.com for photos. -jeb