Enjoy Nara before the rush of tourists and other visitors. Feel yourself slowly become lighter, too with a walk through the ancient city as it gradual appears through the morning mist. See some of Nara’s famous sites in a new light, too.
Nara Park & Tobihino
Kasuga Taisha Shrine
Approx. 3.39 km
58 min (Not including time spent at locations)
The name of this shrine, “Himuro,” literally means “ice room,” a reference to the god enshrined therein: the guardian protector of man-made ice and refrigeration. On the first of each month, “ice lanterns” (koori kentou) are lit: votive candels are lit within ice vessels, which shine exquisitely around the shrine. Visitors in the springtime can also see an extraordinary weeping cherry tree reknowned as the most beautiful cherry blossom tree in Nara. In recent years, an event called “Himuro Shirayuki Festival” has brought together many varieties of shaved ice from around Nara and Japan.
Located within the grounds of Kasuga Taisha Shrine, Tobihino is the name given to this wide, grassy expanse. In the days of the capital, this area was used for signalling with sparks and smoke, which could be seen from far away. The name Tobihino is apt for a place for signal fires, because it translates to, “field of soaring fire.”
Built nearly 1,300 years ago, Kasuga Taisha Shrine represented a prayer for the prosperity of the kingdom and the happiness of its people.
The lanterns hanging within the red main hall and along the pathway leading to the shrine have been funded by donations from the 10th century until the present day. The faith of the many donors can be seen by looking at the number of lanterns alone.
*Visits to the shrine early in the morning are led by Shinto priests. For more on specific times during different days and months, please check the site below.
This wooden rest spot floats on the Heron Pond (Sagi Ike) with its thatched cypress roof in the center of Nara Park. It’s a wondrous sight to catch it early in the morning, as it appears to rise from the pond, wrapped in curls of mist. Visitors can also enjoy the nearby flora as they change throughout the seasons.