fun things to do with kids nara japan   Travel for Kids
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In the 8th century Nara was the capital of Japan. Today, it's a quieter place, with spare, elegant Buddhist temples, including the oldest temple in Japan and the oldest wooden building, the Horyu-ji. Kids will get a great sense of the long tradition of Japan here in Nara.
todaiji buddha
  Todai-ji – Start your explorations with a "must do," the Todai-ji, the world's largest wooden building (it had to be big to hold what's inside). Go in through the Southern Gate, past two huge guardian figures to the Daibutsu-den, the Hall of the Great Buddha. The bronze statute of the Buddha is immense, 18 meters high. The face is 3.2 meters wide, the ear is 2.5 meters long, the nose is 9.8 meters wide.
    Wakakusa Hill – To stretch your legs, take a stroll up to the top of Wakakusa Hill. You'll probably see school kids doing the same thing. From this grassy hill, there's a great view of Nara.
bronze lanterns
  Kasuga Taisha – Stroll down to the Kasuga Taisha, where you can see thousands of stone lanterns that line the walkway to the shrine. Hanging from the eaves of the shrine are winged bronze lanterns, decorated with nature motifs. Twice a year, for the Mandoro Festival, all the lanterns are lit!
    Nara Park (Nara Koen) – The deer in Nara Park hark back to an ancient belief that deer were divine messengers from Kasuga gods. You'll see plenty of them in the park. Knowing they're protected, the deer are self-assertive and may try to eat your purse (you're better off buying deer souvenirs.)

Kofuku-ji – Head over to the Kofuku-ji, the temple of the Fujiwara, an important clan in the 8th century. Originally there were over a hundred temples, but many were burned over the years. The five storied pagoda was rebuilt in the 15th century, the three storied pagoda in the 12th century. Walk around the pond close to the pagodas, the Sarusawa Pond.

Nara-machi – South of Sawusawa pond is the Nara-machi district, an old part of town, where merchant houses have been preserved. Wander the narrow streets, where you can see the traditional lattice work and tiled roofs. If you want to see the interior of a traditional house compound, stop into the Nara-machi Shiryokan, a little museum with household goods, a small garden and tea house.
Horyu-ji – It's worth a train or bus trip to the southwest section of Nara to see the Horyu-ji, the oldest temple in Japan, and the oldest wooden buildings in the world. The Horyu-ji is the first Buddhist temple in Japan, founded in 607. Unlike the painted pagodas of the Kofuku-ji, the buildings at Nara are subdued colors – natural wood, gray, white.
      Before you go in, stop at the dragon fountain to wash your hands with a bamboo dipper. The information center also has maps in English and displays of the Horyu-ji complex. In the West Temple (Sai-in), you'll see the five storied pagoda (Gojuno-to) and the Golden Hall (Kon-do), the world's oldest wooden building, completed in 711. In the East Temple, don't miss, the Hall of Dreams (Yumedono), a lovely eight-sided building with an incredible bronze roof ornament.
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