Best Day Trips from Nara

Best Day Trips from Nara

Best Day Trips from Nara

Perhaps Japan’s most rewarding cities with 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites residing here, Nara is a prime example of Japan’s culture and history kept intact till today. Home to countless beautiful temples, shrines, and stunning gardens and museums, the town makes for a great destination to get acquainted with the nation’s heritage. Visitors from all over the world flock over here to see Daibutsu (Great Buddha), one that is housed in the soaring temple of Todai-ji. Most of its attractions are situated in or around Nara-Koen Park, like the Kasuga-Taisha shrine (the most important Shinto shrine) or the Isui-en garden where you can take a stroll enjoying the beautiful surroundings while sipping in some Matcha.

Nara is a compact town and can be covered in a day and a half. But thanks to Japan’s high speed rail, you can cover a lot of ground in much lesser time. Nara being surrounded by some amazing places that are worth taking a trip to, you can visit one of the oldest castles or maybe taste the famous Kobe beef; there is lot to see and experience around here. So extend your stay and plan some fabulous day trips. Following are some options around Nara:

1. Himeji Castle

One of the last remaining original castles, Himeji Castle is the most beautiful and widely visited castle in Japan. Also known as the White Heron Castle due to its white appearance, it is quite well preserved with expansive, complex grounds. Unlike other castles, it stood through countless fires, earthquakes, and wars and survived to this day as one of the most ravishing example of history. Named as a National Treasure as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site both, the grounds turn into a wonderland with beautiful blush enveloping the garden during the short span of cherry blossom season in early April. Visit the castle and marvel at this 400 yr old architectural gem. The nearby Koko-en garden is a perfect respite after a long exploration of this monument. Explore the jaw-dropping collection of meticulously planned nine samurai houses and their beautiful verdant gardens with a steaming cup of Matcha. The fastest way to travel to Himeji Castle is via train that takes about a couple of hours.

2. Mount Koya

For over a century Mt. Koya or Koya-San has been a sacred place for pilgrims all around the world. A quiet Buddhists retreat in operation since its establishment, it is the headquarters of Shingon School of Buddhism. Hidden by ancient cedar forests, Mt. Koya has always been elevated from the modern trappings of society and land. Home to more than 100 monasteries and temples, it has eternally been the holiest place in Japan for centuries now. Start by visiting its most famous landmark, the Okyonoin Cemetery, the largest graveyard in Japan. The mystical inner temple houses the Kobo Daishi’s Mausoleum, where the walking path will lead you to breathtaking Torodo Hall filled with 10,000 eternally lit lanterns! Mt. Koya’s Pagoda, Konpon Daito is another one of its iconic landmark. The structure astonishing tall structure, vibrant colours, and tranquil environment will force you to sit down and appreciate its beauty. You can also spend the night here and enjoy a vegetarian meal and they also provide you with an amazing opportunity to take part in morning prayers and meditation. The fastest way to reach there is via Osaka. Take a train to Osaka and from there board a train to Gokurakubashi. The whole journey takes a little more than a couple of hours.

3. Kyoto

Kyoto is essentially Japan in a nutshell, with atmospheric temples, spectacular gardens, and the famous Japanese teahouses. The city is known for its numerous temples and shrines, an embodiment of its spiritual heart. Visit the jaw-droppingly grand Kinkaku-ji, the famous golden pavilion and the vast & expansive Higashi-Hongan-ji, where the sight of monks travelling in Kyoto in between zen gardens and temples is quite a sight. Even though Kyoto has also transitioned to being a largely contemporary city, the pleasant smell of burning incense and colourful shrines at every corner is an indicator that it will always be tied to its spiritual roots. Ghastly popular with foodies, the city is jammed with countless Michelin start restaurants, sophisticated cocktail bars, noodle joints and sushi spots, all things possible to tease your palate and ultimately fulfil your cravings. Other than that, it is an art lover’s paradise, as the traditional art and crafts are still kept alive in Kyoto from generations, unlike most of Japan. Stroll down the streets in Gion and explore the speciality shops like tofu sellers, washi, or tea merchants. The best time to visit is the spring time when Cherry Blossom festival is at its bloom. Trains commute in every half an hour in between these cities and take about 45 minutes to cover the distance.

4. Kobe

Nestled in the sea and the mountains, Kobe is one of the most beautiful and urbane cities in Japan! Packing a perfect punch with its great ambience, delectable food combined with the most mesmerising view of both sea and mountains, there is plenty to choose from in terms of attractions. Besides numerous extraordinary activities to take part in like exploring Sake breweries in Nada district, you can witness the whole Sake brewing process by contacting any of the local Sake producers. If you plan your holiday during the spring season, then you are in luck since its cherry blossom season; you can go to Nunobuki Herb Garden to experience the most eternal bloom ever! Other than that, enjoy the panoramic views of the whole city by visiting the highest peak in Kobe, Mount Rokko. The Shin-Ropeway lifts you up there as you enjoy the aerial view. Above everything else, the city is worldwide famous for its mouth-watering Kobe Beef and rightly so! There are some steak restaurants specialising in Kobe beef serving the most delicious food, and thankfully, the small area makes it really easy to explore it by foot.Take a train from Nara and you will reach Kobe in less than an hour’s time.

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