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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

History

Kasuga Taisha Shrine 春日大社

Nara's grandest shrine houses four main deities and a dozen lucky gods

Kasuga Taisha is considered one of the most sacred sites in all of Japan. As a place where numerous gods are enshrined, it attracts both devotees and tourists seeking an iconic Shinto experience.

Don't Miss

  • The 12 auxiliary shrines dedicated to lucky gods
  • Shinen Manyo Botanical Garden
  • The autumn foliage and wisteria in season

How to Get There

Kasuga Taisha is easily accessed by bus or taxi from Kintetsu or JR Nara stations.

Frequent bus services run from both stations to Kasuga Taisha Honden bus stop. You can also walk there in approximately 30 minutes from Kintetsu Nara Station and 45 minutes from JR Nara Station.

Four gods enshrined

Kasuga Taisha was built in 768 by a lord of the powerful Fujiwara clan. Whereas it is quite common for Japanese shrines to honor one or two gods, the influence of the Fujiwaras allowed Kasuga Taisha to host four of them, including ones from Chiba, Ibaraki and Osaka. Each has its own shrine.

Architecture and nature in photogenic harmony

Kasuga Taisha is known for its colors and photogenic setting. The contrast between the bright vermilion paint, the white walls and the cypress wood roofs has inspired photographers for many years. The shrine was rebuilt every two decades, a practice that lasted until the Edo period ended.

Another popular spot in the shrine grounds is the Shinen Manyo Botanical Garden, which has over 200 kinds of plants. The wisteria flowers that bloom from late April to early May are a particular favorite of visitors.

Wisteria in full bloom at Shinen Manyo Botanical Garden

Lanterns everywhere, and deer on the path

One of the first things people notice when they enter Kasuga Taisha is its thousands of stone lanterns—over 3,000 of them, in fact. The path to the main building is flanked on both sides by these lanterns, and the main building has hundreds of bronze lanterns as well.

Not surprisingly, the area is known for its lantern festival, Mandoro. During this festival, held in early February and also in mid-August, the lanterns light up the shrine and surroundings.

The path to Kasuga Taisha passes through Nara Park, where deer roam freely. The deer are believed to be sacred messengers of the Shinto gods that inhabit the shrine and the mountainous terrain around it.

Kasuga's own architectural touch

Kasuga Taisha is renowned for being the finest example of the Kasuga-zukuri style of architecture, which dates back to the early 8th century and incorporates Chinese-style roofs and red, gold and vermilion decoration. A sloping roof gently extending over the front of the building also identifies structures of this style.

A shrine for every lucky god

While the main shrine commands the most attention, it is easy to overlook the lesser shrines. There are 12 principal shrines, each dedicated to one of the 12 lucky gods of Japan. The most notable is Wakamiya Shrine, which hosts the Kasuga Wakamiya On-matsuri Festival every year. This event offers a great chance to see traditional Japanese dance.

You should plan to spend a few hours at Kasuga Taisha, especially if you are a keen photographer. In particular, the botanical garden, museum and the variety of buildings make for a great tour. Combine your visit here with a visit to Nara Park, Mt. Wakakusa, Todaiji Temple, and Kofukuji Temple for a full day of activities in Nara.

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