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Nara - Another Old Capital where Japan's heart is still alive

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, which has so much to offer that have remained unchanged for over 1,300 years.

Aug. 5-14
Nara Touka-e Candle Illumination

August is the season of fire in Nara in more ways than just the summer heat. The Obon Holiday period, a celebration honoring one's ancestors and inviting their souls back into the homes of their friends and relatives, also occurs in the middle of August. Nara Touka-e candle illumination is an elegant nighttime event in the vast area of Nara Park, including some World Heritage sites. Some 20,000 candles are lit by local volunteers every evening, one by one. A romantic summer night experience strolling in the park surrounded by the warmth of candle light and the hearts of people in Nara. 19:00-21:45; www.toukae.jp

Aug. 15
Nara Daimonji Okuri-bi Ceremony

The night before Kyoto's Okuri-bi ceremony, another one is held in Nara. The Okuri-bi ceremony in Nara began in 1960 in order to honor those who died in the war and to pray for world peace. A unique memorial service is held from 18:50 on Tobihino Hill which includes both Shinto and Buddhist rites. The lighting of the character ''Dai'' on the hillside immediately follows the memorial service at 20:00.

Aug. 14 & 15
Chugen Mantoro Lantern Lightup at Kasuga Taisha Shrine

Chugen Mantoro is a traditional event held at Kasuga Taisha Shrine which has been continued for 800 years. More than 3,000 lanterns, stone lanterns in the approaches and hanging metal lanterns in the corridors in the precincts, are lit up magically on these two days for the purpose of consoling and honoring the people who are passing-away (19:00-21:30).

Access to Nara from Kyoto

By JR Train, take the Miyakoji Kaisoku Express (approx. 45 min.)
To learn more about Nara, visit official English websites