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An ancient capital city, Nara celebrated its 1,300th birthday in 2010. The years have seen an impressive number of important and historical sites rise up, and today, many of them remain preserved more attractively than those in Kyoto. Maintaining its ancient flair, there is no airport in Nara. So travelers use Kansai International Airport or Osaka’s Itami Airport as a gateway.

If you have only one day in the city, the place to be would be Nara Park. It is here where most of the city’s sights are found. One of its unique features is the mercenary deer, an envoy of the gods in local legend. Temples and shrines are found in abundance here and includes Todai-ji, a temple complex with the famous Daibutsu which is housed in a UNESCO World Heritage site called Daibutsu-den, noted for being the world’s largest wooden building. Buddhism’s deep roots can be explored outside the religious sites in places such the Nara National Museum which houses the world’s best collections of Buddhist art. Outside of the Nara Park area, sites worth a visit would include Heijōkyū Palace and one of ancient Nara’s seven most important temples - Gangō-ji. For picking up some local goods and souvenirs, there are a number of walking streets to visit, including Higashimuki Shopping Street and Sanjō-dōri Avenue.

Be sure to check out the interactive map of Nara for information on hotel locations, attractions, and must-see destinations.