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Home - Travel - Sightseeing Guide - Kansai - Nara
Kasuga Taisha (Kasuga Grand Shrine) 
# 5   of 16 most visited
sights in Nara

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The main sanctuary of Kasuga Taisha

Kasuga Taisha is Nara's most celebrated shrine. It was established at the same time as the capital and is dedicated to the deity responsible for the protection of the city. Kasuga Taisha was also the tutelary shrine of the Fujiwara, Japan's most powerful family clan during most of the Nara and Heian Periods. Like the Ise Shrines, Kasuga Taisha had been periodically rebuilt every 20 years for many centuries. In the case of Kasuga Taisha, however, the custom was discontinued at the end of the Edo Period.

Beyond the shrine's offering hall, which can be visited free of charge, there is a paid inner area which provides a closer view of the shrine's inner buildings. Furthest in is the main sanctuary, containing multiple shrine buildings that display the distinctive Kasuga style of shrine architecture, characterized by a sloping roof extending over the front of the building.

Various types of lanterns at Kasuga Taisha

Kasuga Taisha is famous for its lanterns, which have been donated by worshipers. Hundreds of bronze lanterns can be found hanging from the buildings, while as many stone lanterns line its approaches. The lanterns are lit twice a year on the occasion of the Lantern Festivals in early February and mid August.

There are over a dozen auxiliary shrines in the woods around Kasuga Taisha, twelve of which are on the path past the main shrine complex and comprise a tour of the twelve lucky gods. These include Wakamiya Shrine, an important cultural property and known for its dance festival, as well as Meoto Daikokusha, which enshrines married deities and is said to be fortuitous to matchmaking and marriage.

Kasuga Taisha Shinen Manyo Botanical Garden

Located a short walk from the Kasuga Shrine main complex is the Kasuga Taisha Shinen Manyo Botanical Garden. This garden displays about 250 kinds of plants described in the Manyoshu, Japan's oldest collection of poems which dates to the Nara Period. A large part of the garden is dedicated to wisteria flowers which usually bloom from late April to early May.

The shrine grounds also contain a Treasure House near the main complex which displays the shrine's relics. These include two sets of large ornate drums. Additionally, the Kasuga Primeval Forest, a sacred old-growth forest belonging to the shrine, covers the mountain behind Kasuga Taisha, however, it is closed to the public.

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How to get there
On April 1, 2014, the consumption tax increased from 5% to 8%, causing widespread changes to transportation fares. This page has not been updated yet, and some of the fees and fares in this section may not be up-to-date.

Kasuga Taisha is located in the east of Nara Park. It is about a 30 minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station, or a 45 minute walk from JR Nara Station. Alternatively, it can be reached by bus from either station. Get off at the Kasuga Taisha Honden bus stop (180 yen, frequent departures).

How to get to and around Nara

Hours and Fees
Kasuga Taisha
Hours:6:00 to 18:00 (April to September)
6:30 to 17:30 (October to March)
Closed:No closing days
Admission:Free (outer area), 500 yen (inner area)

Botanical Garden
Hours:9:00 to 17:00 (until 16:30 from December to February)
Admission ends 30 minutes before closing
Closed:Mondays from December to February (or the following Tue if Mon is a national holiday)
Admission:500 yen

Treasure House
Hours:9:00 to 17:00 (Admission until 16:30)
Closed:Closed irregularly for exhibit changes
Admission:400 yen

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Hotels and Ryokan
Nara is commonly visited on a day trip from Kyoto or Osaka, and only a few tourists overnight there. Indeed, the range of accommodation in Nara is rather limited, but there are a few options for those aiming to visit the city in more than a day trip. A location close to Nara Park is generally preferred.
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Asukaso
A fine ryokan with hot spring bath offering views of the famous five-story pagoda. Located in the heart of Nara town.
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Centrally located ryokan with outdoor baths that view onto the pagoda of Kofukuji Temple.
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Hotel Fujita Nara
Regular business hotel located halfway between JR Nara Station and Nara Park.
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Nara Hotel
One of the oldest Western style hotels in Japan, located next to Nara Park.
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Tours and Packages
Nara Tours
Various tours and travel packages for Nara and surroundings.

User Ratings
Ratings for Kasuga Taisha:
japan-guide.com Rating:
  outstanding  
User Rating (by 493 users):
85/100
  recommended

Best rated sights nationwide (out of 764):
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186.  Benesse House (Naoshima)   85/100
187.  Kasuga Taisha (Nara)   85/100
188.  Akihabara (Tokyo)   85/100
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English Links
Kasuga Taisha
Official English pdf.

Japanese Links
Kasuga Taisha
Official website.

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