Nara Odyssey:

Shrines and Temples, Tradition, and Time

Surpassing the elegance of Kyoto, hailed as the “Thousand-Year Capital,” Nara Prefecture unfolds a history that luxuriates over 1,300 years.

Over time, a delicate legacy of history, culture, and faith has transitioned into the fabric of daily life. These refined nuances, often hidden from cursory glances, invite those on an intellectual quest to uncover their true beauty.

Embark on a condensed intellectual odyssey, beginning in Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture.
Here, the whispers of history resonate with the timeless traditions of culture , and the echoes of faith blend harmoniously into a captivating narrative.
Join us as we explore the subtleties that make Nara a destination where every moment unfolds a story, and each corner reveals the elegance of its long heritage.

Hase Temple 長谷寺

A Tranquil Enclave of Nara-era Devotion

During the Nara period, around the 8th century, Hase Temple emerged as the focal point of Kannon worship, captivating the aristocracy known for their contributions to the arts, poetry, and literature. Beyond the ascent of its 399 small stone steps lies a national treasure. The main hall, at the heart of the temple, houses a majestic 10-meter-tall Eleven-faced Kannon Bodhisattva statue, one of the largest wooden statues in Japan. The meticulously manicured garden, adorned with cherry blossoms, peonies, hydrangeas, autumn foliage, and cold-resistant camellias, presents a breathtaking panorama of seasonal hues.

Omiwa Shrine 大神神社

A Beacon of Ancient Reverence

Among Japan's oldest shrines, Omiwa Shrine lacks a central sanctuary, with prayers directed to the sacred Mt. Miwa through the distinctive Miwa Torii gate. As a Shinto shrine, the sacred image of Mt. Miwa became the sacred ground for early religious practices in Japan. Revered as the origin of various industries, including sake, medicine, and Miwa noodles, Omiwa Shrine commands admiration across Japan for its enduring historical significance. The shrine is known for its wooden architecture, featuring Japanese cedar in decorative ornaments adorning the buildings.

Nishiuchi Shuzo 西内酒造

Crafting Elixirs from Nature's Bounty

Established in 1877 near the iconic Torii gate of Tanzan Shrine, Nishiuchi Shuzo is the sole brewery in Nara Prefecture crafting both premium and super-premium sake. Utilizing the pristine waters descending from Mt. Tonomine, where Tanzan Shrine stands sentinel, Nishiuchi Shuzo transforms tradition into liquid artistry.

Shorinji Temple 聖林寺

Ancient Tranquility in the Shadow of Fujiwara Kamatari's Legacy

Founded in 712 during the Wado era by Joue, the eldest son of Fujiwara no Kamatari, Shorinji Temple is a venerable sanctuary intricately connected to the illustrious history of Japan. Its national treasure, the Eleven-faced Kannon statue, gained prominence in 1887 when Fenollosa unveiled the mysteries surrounding this sacred icon. During special evening visits, guests can indulge in seasonal dinners at the Shorin Tea House within the temple grounds.

Abe Monjuin 安倍文殊院

Enigmatic Beauty Among Japan's Three Great Monju Temples

One of Japan's esteemed Three Great Monju Temples, Abe Monjuin captivates with its enchanting main hall that houses Monju Bosatsu and a group of sculptures crafted by Kaikei, which are a national treasure collectively known as the "Tokai Monju." This ensemble portrays Monju Bosatsu crossing a sea of clouds, dispelling evil, and bestowing wisdom.

Aji no Kaze Nishimura 味の風にしむら

A Culinary Symphony in a Ten-Seat Symphony

Aji no Kaze Nishimura, with its ten-seat counter, invites patrons to a creative culinary experience where the chef's meticulous attention to ingredients brings innovation to Japanese cuisine. Beyond the white oak counter, savor the essence of Kaiseki cuisine—a culinary symphony that has earned the prestigious Michelin one-star accolade.

The Sailing Bar セーリングバー

Navigating the Waters of Refinement

Led by Chief Bartender Watanabe, the first from Nara to compete in the World Class Bartender Championship, Sailing Bar welcomes connoisseurs to a realm where crafted cocktails and delectable dishes are served with a touch of bartending finesse. Immerse yourself in an ambiance that epitomizes tranquility and taste at its finest.

il gatto イルガット

Homely Italian Excellence

Cherished as a local gem, il gatto is an inviting haven for authentic Italian cuisine. Using a pizza oven imported from Milan, the restaurant highlights the finest local vegetables and seasonal ingredients, resulting in mouthwatering pizzas. Indulge in delightful desserts such as gelato and tiramisu, completing a culinary journey to remember.

Hibara Shrine: 檜原神社

Tracing Roots to the Dawn of Imperial Rule

Founded during the reign of Emperor Sujin, the 10th Emperor, Hibara Shrine holds a venerable place in history. The shrine was relocated to its current sacred site during the era of Emperor Sujin, a pivotal moment that laid the foundations for the illustrious Ise Grand Shrine, earning it the appellation "Moto-Ise," meaning the "Original Ise." In harmony with the grandeur of Omiwa Shrine, Hibara Shrine eschews a main hall, inviting prayers to ascend through its graceful Torii gate, a solemn and elegant gesture of reverence.

Inakajaya Chie 田舎茶屋 千恵

Embracing Tradition in a Countryside Oasis

Perched atop the Yamato Plain, Inakajaya Chie, housed in a centuries-old farmhouse, offers a panoramic view. The kaiseki-style creative cuisine, featuring rice cooked in an open hearth and tempura crafted from morning-picked wild herbs, showcases the essence of local ingredients. Experience the timeless charm of "traditional Japanese living" amidst a feast for the senses.

Koma / Iwasaka 狛・岩坂

A Journey Through Time and Tranquility

The sloping path winding its way from Komatoge is a venerable trail, believed to have been traversed by the ancient poet Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, a representative Manyoshu poet, on his journeys to Uda. Ascending this historic route unveils the quaint villages of Koma and Iwasaka. Here, amidst the undulating landscape, one is transported to an era where the scenery remains an unaltered ode to time, fostering a profound connection with the rustic charm of mountain living – both then and now.