Region
Kansai
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Nara
Population
1,442,862

Kasuga Taisha

On the south side of Nara Park, not far from the famous Nara temples of Todai-ji and Kofuku-ji, one can find a long, wide path flanked with stone lanterns. At the end of this path is Kasuga Taisha, a large shrine complex dating back over 1,300 years.

Kasuga Taisha is well known for its lanterns of which it has some 3,000 in total. This includes not only the stone lanterns on its approach but also hundreds of bronze lanterns suspended inside and outside the shrine buildings.

Kasuga Taisha in Nara, Japan.

Entry to the outer areas of the shrine is free, and it is here that you can pray or purchase charms and goshuin; however, you do need to pay before you can access the inner courtyard. From here, you can access the Honden, or main hall, which includes a corridor that is pitch black, save for the faint glow of dozens of small lanterns hanging from the ceiling.

The Honden is in its own unique style called Kasuga-zukuri and has been rebuilt every 20 years since its founding in 768.

Which park is nearby?

In front of the Honden is a small dry-stone garden called Ringo-no-Niwa meaning the Apple Yard. The original apple tree was planted in the 12th century and was used to divine the abundance of harvests. That first tree has long since died and the current one was planted in 1957.

On the other side of the Apple Yard is a huge cypress tree called Honsha-Osugi. The tree stands to a height of about 20m and its trunk is some 8m around. It is thought to be at least 1,000 years old and unusually, has a Chinese Juniper tree growing out of it trunk and piercing through the roof of a nearby hall called the Naoraiden.

The shrine is famous for its many bronze lanterns and many stone lanterns.

Around the shrine

Kasuga Taisha also has a fascinating museum with some great artifacts. You can also visit the Manyo Botanical Garden which contains more than 300 varieties of plant, all of which were named in a 1,300 year old poetry compilation called the Man’yoshu

Surrounding the shrine is the primeval forest of Kasugayama. The forest is riddled with trails that lead to Mount Wakakusa to the north and the ancient sword-smithing village of Yagyu to the south. This road, the Yagyu Kaido, is nicknamed the Takisaka-no-Michi meaning “Waterfall Slope Road” as smooth stones and slope can become a veritable waterfall when it rains.

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Trivia

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Things To Know

Fees and Hours

Entry to the outer courtyard is free and access to the inner parts of the shrine cost ¥500 per person. Tickets for the Botanical Garden are ¥500 for adults and 250 yen for children. The gardens are open from 9 a.m. to 16.30 p.m. between March and October and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from November to February.

How To Get There

Address

160-7 Kasuganochō, Nara-shi, Nara-ken 630-8212, Japan

By train

Kasuga-taisha is centrally located within Nara Park and only a 15-20 minute walk from Todai-ji and Kofuku-ji temples and 30 minutes from Kintetsu Nara station.

Where To Stay

Mountain Home Lodge in Deer Park
  • Kasuganocho 158-6 Nara-Shi, Nara 630-8212
  • 9.5/10
  • 0.4 km
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The Deer Park Inn
  • Kasuganocho 158-5 Nara-Shi, Nara 630-8212
  • 9/10
  • 0.4 km
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Kotonoyado Musashino
  • Kasugano-cho 90 Nara-Shi, Nara 630-8212
  • 9.1/10
  • 0.4 km
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Tsukihitei
  • Kasugano-cho 158 Nara-Shi, Nara 630-8212
  • 9.5/10
  • 0.6 km
Powered by Booking.com