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Nara, another Old Capital where Japan's heart is still alive
Experience Hina Matsuri Festival in Nara
Takatori Town - ''Hina Ningyo Dolls in Machiya Town House Tour''

Long before Kyoto started to flourish as Japan's national capital of Heian-kyo in 794, there was another place where, in fact, the foundation of Japan had already been established. That place is Nara, another ancient capital - but don't take it as just a small ''Kyoto'' as Nara has so much to offer with numerous excellent cultural and natural heritage sites, which have remained unchanged for over 1,300 years, that will impress every visitor.

A number of Hina Ningyo dolls displayed in the Takatori Town

Takatori Town located in the Asuka area is the home to the history of ancient Japan which emanates a historical atmosphere with its volume of valuable ruins from the Kofun to Asuka period (3rd to 8th century). The area was renowned for its trove of tumulus, stoneworks and ruins and said to possess some 800 of large and small tumulus which were built between the 6th and end of the 7th century.

In ancient times, clans who came from abroad were engaged struggling for power in Takatori Town. Takatori Castle is one of the three largest castles established on the mountain in Japan whose base was built in the 14th century. In the Edo period, the castle buildings were developed and the area was prospered as a castle town.

The entire town will be the museum of Hina Ningyo

In the town, there are famous temples including Tsubosaka Temple, Sosen-ji Temple and Kojima Temple, where famous Buddhist mandala (National Treasure) from the Heian period still remains. Along the main street that leads to the Takatori Castle, is said to have some 500 of oil and foundry shops lined by the roadsides. Even today, one will encounter a nostalgic scenery of good old days of the time with old buildings leaving traditional forms.

Meet Nara's unique mascot characters: Sento-kun & Hiina-chan!

March is the season for Hina Matsuri festival in Japan. In the general households in Takatori Town, many hina ningyo dolls, which people have treasured and handed down for centuries, are well preserved. The Hina Ningyo Dolls in Machiya Town House Tour (Mar. 1-31) started in 2007 to showcase rich Hina Matsuri culture of the town at some 100 sites. In addition, the special opening of the mandala art depicting the Hina Matsuri festival and three-story pagoda (Important Cultural Property) will be held at Tsubosaka Temple (10:00-16:00; 600 yen). Join the Hina Matsuri in Takatori Town and experience the historic atmosphere of Nara.

Plum Festival in Tsukigase Village
Until Mar. 31

Tsukigase Village's plum grove was designated as the first scenic beauty site in Japan in 1922. The area was renowned for best spot to enjoy plum blossoms since ancient times with its beautiful combined scenery of the valley. March is the time for Tsukigase Plum Festival and various other fun events will be held. www.tsukigasekanko.jp/

Join GREAT BUS TOURS and go & learn deeper into the heart of Japanese culture

Very attractive new bus tour programs for overseas visitors in Nara! The bus tour will bring overseas visitors to lesser-known, yet very interesting and fun destinations! This is the perfect opportunity for those who want to not only see but also enjoy a variety of special experiences that Nara can offer with a professional guide!

Tuesday: Course A
''Garden of excellence at Hotoku-ji Temple & Season's best of Nara''

Try making a bowl of matcha green tea by yourself; relax and enjoy the taste viewing a superb Japanese garden.

Schedule: Depart at 13:00 -> 13:40 Hotoku-ji Temple -> 15:00 Enjoy season's best of Nara (plum groves in Tsukigase Village) -> 17:30 Back to the center.
Price: 6,500 yen/person

Thursday: Course B
''Taima Temple & Experience the World of Sumo Wrestling''
Shabutsu Buddhist image copying & try dressing like a real Sumo wrestler and stand on a real Sumo ring.

Schedule: Depart at 13:00 -> 13:45 Taima Temple (temple treasures and Buddhist sutra copying experience) -> 15:30 Sumo Museum -> 17:30 Back to the center.
Price: 6,900 yen/person

Friday: Course C
''Meet the Spiritual Miwa and Asuka''

Taste the seasonal fruits of the village and five kinds of Japanese sake at an established brewery.

Schedule: Depart at 9:15 -> 10:15 Asuka Village (strawberry picking & walk tour) -> 13:10 Omiwa Shrine -> (10 min. walk) 14:10 Imanishi Sake Brewery (brewery visit & sake tasting) -> 16:00 Back to the center.
Price: 8,800 yen/person

*Seat reservations can be made at the Nara Visitor Center & Inn (Email: sarusawainn@quartz.ocn.ne.jp / Tel: 0742-81-7461) or through the JAPANICAN website: www.japanican.com/en/special/info/nara/index.html
* All tours below depart from the Nara Visitor Center & Inn.
* Transportation, admission & experience fees, meals (Course C) are included.
* An English speaking, full-time tour conductor will join the tour.
* Tours will be cancelled if there are no reservations by noon on the day before the tour. Joining-on-the-day is accepted by noon on the day (by 17:00 on the previous day for Course C) if a tour is on and seats are available.

For more information, contact/visit the Nara Visitor Center & Inn: www.sarusawa.nara.jp

Your journey in Nara starts here

Nara Visitor Center & Inn

A wide range of convenient services and events for foreign visitors. A place to relax and meet other travelers from around the world!

The center provides not only tourist information, but also hosts educational and fun events: Hands-on experiences of calligraphy, tea ceremony, Japanese culinary culture, origami paper folding lesson and easy kimono experience. Join our events, enjoy your time in Nara, and have more fun!

Traveler's Lounge (rest space, free Wi-Fi, cultural events, etc.)
Bicycle rental service
Tourist information (Nara & Japan), currency exchange, temporary luggage storage
Tour & Event Information
Computers with Internet access
Cash ATM
Convenience store
The inn has just opened in March 2017!

Access to Nara from Kyoto
By JR train, take the Miyakoji Kaisoku (approx. 45 min.)
The inn has just opened in December 2016!
Hours: 8:00-21:00
Phone: 0742-81-7461
Check out the latest information on our facebook Page!

''Simply Nara''
An English Magazine with ''Simple'' yet ''Deep'' information about Nara for Foreign Tourists

''Simply Nara'' is an English publication introducing tourist information about Nara, another old capital of Japan even before Kyoto.

Female translators based in Nara select ''simple'' yet ''profound'' topics from an array of sources about history, World Heritage sites, seasonal flowers, traditional events and a number of must-not-miss spots.

Get a copy at:
Nara Visitor Center & Inn, the Tourist Information Center at JR and Kintetsu Nara Stations, Kansai International Airport Tourist Information, and more

Nara Prefecture provides support for women to find and start work as translators. The English tourist magazine, ''Simply Nara,'' is published as one of the projects conducted by Nara Prefecture.