Kaizankisharie of Toshodaiji
A registered World Heritage Site, Toshodaiji is a cultural asset of ancient Nara. It was founded by the priest Ganjinwajo (AD688-763) who finally succeeded in coming to Japan to preach Buddhism on his sixth voyage across the perilous seas from Yangzhou in China.
The kaizankisharie is a Buddhist memorial service held with offering of cooked rice in commemoration of the death anniversary of Ganjinwajo on 6 June.
At the Mieido Hall where a statue of Ganjinwajo is enshrined, the sculptured statue of Ganjinwajo in a seated pose is said to be the oldest masterpiece among portrait sculptures. There is also a room partition painting (fusuma-ei) drawn by the master painter Higashiyamakaii, one of Japan’s representative artists, over a period of 10 years as a tribute to Ganjinwajo. Please do not miss this chance to catch these great works of art which are normally closed to the public.
[Kaizankisharie] 5 Jun 2014 (Thurs) – 6 Jun 2014 (Fri) 8:30 - 17:00 (last entry at 16:30)
[Public exhibition of national treasures, the seated statue of Ganjinwajo & the Mieido room partition drawing】5 Jun 2013 (Thurs) – 8 Jun 2013 (Sun) 9:00 - 16:00
- Venue: Mieido, Kodo, Toho
- Access: About 10 minutes walking distance from Kintetsu Nishinokyo Station, or take the Nara Transportation Bus heading for Mount Rokujo from the JR/Kintetsu Nara Station (Service No. 63, 70, 72) for about 20 minutes and alight at Toshodaiji.
- Entrance fees: Adult 600 yen, high school students 400 yen, elementary school students 200 yen
*Entrance fees for the special Mieido exhibition are separately chargeable (adults 500 yen, high school students 300 yen, elementary school students 200 yen)
- Website: http://www.toshodaiji.jp/english/index.html (English)
Public Viewing of Fawn in Deer Park
Adorable baby deer are born starting from mid-May every year at the Nara Park where there are approximately 1000 deer. As the mother deer become very aggressive in order to protect their precious babies during this period, pregnant deer are moved in advance to a protective facility known as the Deer Park starting around April to prevent injuries to people in Nara Park.
Do come and see the adorable fawn that has just been born together with their mothers which will be open for public viewing.
- Viewing Date and Time: Jun 1 (Sun) – Jun 30 (Mon), 2014
11:00-14:00 (last entry at 13:30)
- Venue: Deer park within the grounds of Kasuga Grand Shrine
- Entrance Fee: Adults 300 yen (free for high school students and below)
- Access: <On foot> Walk for about 30 minutes from Kintetsu Nara Station
<By bus> Take the bus heading for the Kasuga Grand Shrine Main Hall from the JR/Kintetsu Nara Station and alight at the end point. Alternatively, take the city loop bus (outer loop) from the JR/Kintetsu Nara Station and walk for about 10 minutes after alighting at the Kasuga Grand Shrine Omote Sando.
Kencha Festival of Kasuga Grand Shrine
The Kencha Festival is held at Kasuga Grand Shrine, a listed UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site of ancient Nara. It is a Shinto ritual for the three Senke schools of tea ceremony (Omote, Ura and Mushakoji) to take turns to offer tea to the gods each year. This year, the Omote Senke school will prepare dark and light teas to be offered by a Shinto priest. After the festival, the shrine is crowded with people enjoying tea on haifukuseki seats set up within the grounds.
- Entrance Fee: Free
- Haifukuseki Seat: 5000 yen (three seats plus snacks）Reservation required (TEL: 0742－22－7788 (Japan))
- Date and Time: May 10 (Sat), 2014 1100 hours onwards
- Venue: Kasuga Grand Shrine
- Access: Take the bus heading for Kasuga Grand Shrine Main Hall from the JR/Kintetsu Nara Station and alight at the end point. Or, take the city loop bus (outer loop) and walk for about 10 minutes after alighting “Kasuga Grand Shrine Omote Sando”
The Famous Ancient Temples and Shrines of Nara Reflect the Everlasting History of Japan.
Nara was the glorious capital, "like a fragrant flower in full bloom," as an ancient poet once described it. Nara was the cradle of the great Japanese arts and the essence of culture in the long-ago Tempyo Period. The old, world-famous temples and shrines of the province of Yamato (presently Nara Prefecture) have handed down to us their precious history.
Among others, the cathedrals of Todaiji, Kofukuji, Yakushiji, Toshodaiji and the Kasuga Grand Shrine are settings where one can encounter the rich, elegant ambience of the Tempyo Culture.
As you go through the corridors, and glance at the tiled roofs of these cathedrals, the Tempyo Culture will make you forget all about time and space, and will whisper to you about the old days of well over a thousand years as though they were yesterday.
The Buddha in Nara
Nara is also a treasure-house of the Japanese arts. Since the introduction of Buddhism, the Buddhist Images played particularly important roles in creating special "Plastic Arts" in the artistic fields of Buddhism.
The formative (plastic) beauty of our country has been created from the change from the youthful appearance of the Hakuho Period through the gorgeousness and maturity of the Tempyo Period, the delicacy and grace of the Fujiwara Period, and finally to the vigorousness and animation of the Kamakura Period.
The standing dry lacquer figure of Ashura enshrined in the Kofukuji Temple, a masterpiece of the Tempyo Period; the standing Eleven-Headed Kannon (the Goddess of Mercy) enshrined at Hokkeji Temple, a representative product of the Jyogan Period, during which the craftsmanship of wooden carving was popular; and many other famous Buddhist Images are extant in the ancient city of Nara.
As one stars at the face of the Buddha, one gets the feeling that the statue will begin talking at any moment. It is probably true that the passion with which many people make wishes to the Buddha, are in the mind of the Buddha.
Significant Traditional Events in the Ancient City of NARA
As Nara is known as the home of Japanese history and culture, it is not surprising that its traditional events, which are carried out throughout the year, are indeed colorful.
From the Ceremonial Burning of Wakakusa-yama Hill (whose flames illuminate an evening sky in winter); to the Memorial Water-Drawing Ceremony of Nigatsudo (February Hall); through the summer performances of the Firelight Noh (the perfection of that art, performed with an open-air fire for a background); and the Kasuga Grand Shrine Lantern Lighting Ritual (in which about 3,000 stone and hanging bronze lanterns are all lit at once, forming a simple yet elegant atmosphere); to the Deer Antler Cutting Ceremony in the fall; it is no exaggeration to state that the four seasons are beautifully colored by the numerous traditional events that add a sweet innocence to the charm of Nara.
The Fragrance of the Four Seasons in Nara
Nara is the cradle of Japanese culture and the spiritual home of the Japanese people, keeping a beautiful harmony between history and nature.
In the spring, after the Water-Drawing Ceremony is over, the delicate cherry blossoms in the ancient city of temples and shrines begin to bloom all at once. Radiant greenness will cover the roof tiles of these cathedrals in the summer.
Later the ancient capital will be crowded with holiday-makers who seek the beauty of tinted autumnal showing the genuine nature of Nara.
The drama of Nara's four seasons undoubtedly paints its historical remains most colorfully and makes the elegance of an ancient city much more exquisitely attractive.
Arts and Crafts of Nara
Nara is the birthplace of the culture of Japan. Many traditional arts and crafts suited to the natural features and life style of Nara have been handed down to the present day.
The techniques of the ancient artists who created the masterpieces designated as Important Cultural Properties have been preserved in this district.
These refined techniques can be seen in the splendid works preserved in the Shoso-in (the depository for the treasures of Todaiji Temple) and various temples, shrines and museums. These works are not only magnificent, but also have a feeling of dignity and grace. The artists have given us works containing the essence of Nara, its culture, and its history.
Traversing times the spirit of the artisan still exists.