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Kasuga Taisha (春日大社) 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.

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 only lit twice a year during two Lantern Festivals, one in early February and one in mid August.

There are many smaller auxiliary shrines in the woods around Kasuga Taisha, twelve of which are located along a path past the main shrine complex and are dedicated to the twelve lucky gods. Among them are Wakamiya Shrine, an important cultural property known for its dance festival, and Meoto Daikokusha, which enshrines married deities and is said to be fortuitous to matchmaking and marriage.

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 the Kasuga Taisha Museum, a treasure hall near the main complex which displays some of 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.

Getting there and around

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 (220 yen, frequent departures).

How to get to and around Nara

Hours and Fees

Kasuga Taisha

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Closed

Admission

Kasuga Taisha Museum

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Closed

Admission

Botanical Garden

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Closed

Admission

Hotels around Nara

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    • Guest House Oku
      Budget-friendly
      A 5-minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station, Guest House Oku is located a 15-minute walk from JR Nara station. Guest House Oku features a total of 3 guest rooms and free WiFi throughout the property. All rooms come with air conditioning. A toilet and shower is available for guests. You will find luggage storage space at the property. Kofuku-ji is 900 metres from Guest House Oku, while Todaiji Temple is 1.4 km away. Kansai International Airport is a 95-minute limousine bus ride away.
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    • Mountain Home Lodge in Deer Park
      Budget-friendly
      Situated in Nara, near Nara Park, Kasuga Taisha and Kofuku-ji Temple, Mountain Home Lodge in Deer Park features free WiFi. Each unit is fitted with air conditioning, private bathroom and a kitchen including a microwave, fridge, stovetop and a toaster. If you would like to discover the area, hiking is possible in the surroundings. Todai-ji Temple is 2.4 km from the lodge, while Heijo Palace Ruins is 6 km from the property. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 39 km from Mountain Home Lodge in Deer Park.
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    • NARA Visitor Center and Inn
      Budget-friendly
      The Nara Visitor Center and Inn is situated in the heart of Nara, just a 3-minute walk from Kofuku-ji Temple and Naramachi. The Todai-ji Temple and Deer Park are a 10-minute stroll away, while Nara Station on the Kintetsu Line is a 7-minute walk. JR Nara Station is 14-minutes away on foot. All guest rooms feature air conditioning and heating, and are equipped with a fridge and flat-screen TV. Japanese samue nightwear are available to all staying guests. Some units come equipped with an en suite bathroom with a shower, while some Japanese-style rooms come with an en suite shower. Japanese-style rooms feature tatami (woven-straw) floors and Japanese futon bedding. The property offers free WiFi access and a 24-hour front desk. Luggage storage is available. There is a public bath on site, where guests will find free toiletries and hairdryers. A coin launderette, a shared kitchen and free-use internet PCs are offered on site. The on-site tourist information desk offers information in English, Chinese and Korean. Services offered at the desk include transport and meal tickets at a discount, currency exchange, bike hire at a charge, cultural activities at an additional charge, such as Japanese calligraphy lessons, and tour arrangements. Some cultural activities such as origami folding are offered free of charge.
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    • Yuzan Guesthouse
      Budget-friendly
      Conveniently located a 5-minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station and a 8-minute walk from JR Nara Station, Yuzan Guest House Annex offers cosy accommodation with a shared kitchen. Free WiFi access is available throughout the property. Each room is simply decorated and comes with air conditioning and heating facilities. Guests can choose to stay in Japanese-style rooms featuring tatami (woven-straw) floor and futon bedding. Bathroom facilities are shared. At Guest House Yuzan Annex you will find a small garden, a terrace and a shared lounge. Free luggage storage is also available upon request. Guests can make a 10-minute stroll to the Nara Park, located in the city central area. Todaiji Temple and Heijo Palace are both a 10-minute drive away while Kansai International Airport can be reached with a 80-minute drive. Meals are not served on site.
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    • Guesthouse Naramachi
      Budget-friendly
      The 100-year old Guesthouse Naramachi offers simple Japanese-style accommodation just a 5-minute walk from JR Kyobate Train Station. The property is completely non-smoking. It offers massages, bicycle rental and free Wi-Fi throughout. The World Heritage registered Nara Park is a 10-minute walk away. Guests at Naramachi can choose a private room with tatami (woven-straw) flooring and Japanese futon beds. All rooms are air-conditioned, and bathrooms and toilets are shared. Bath towels, washclothes and Yukata robes can be rented. JR Nara Train Station is a 20-minute walk, and Kofuku-ji Temple is a pleasant 10-minute walk away through the traditional streets of Nara. Gangoji Temple and three public baths are available within a 5-minute walk. Various types of bicycles can be rented. A free-use kitchenette is provided, with a microwave, fridge and electric kettle. At time of booking, you must inform the hotel what time you plan to check in. If your check-in time changes, please update the hotel. Guests who require parking must inform the hotel at time of booking.
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    • Kotonoyado Musashino
      Luxury
      Kotono yado Musashino offers accommodation in Nara, and is located a 11-minute drive from Nara Station on the Kintetsu Nara Line. Free WiFi is provided throughout the property and free private parking is available on site. Every room includes a flat-screen TV. You will find a kettle in the room. Rooms include a shared bathroom. For your comfort, you will find slippers and a hair dryer. There is luggage storage space at the property. The ryokan also offers free use of bicycles. Kofuku-ji is 1.1 km from Musashino, while Kasuga Taisha is 300 metres from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from the property.
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    • Guest House En
      Budget-friendly
      Guest House En is set in Nara, within 2.5 km of Todai-ji Temple and 2.7 km of Kasuga Taisha. Featuring a shared lounge, the 2-star guest house has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a shared bathroom. The guest house features family rooms. The units in the guest house are equipped with a kettle. At Guest House En all rooms are equipped with bed linen and towels. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Kofuku-ji Temple, Naramachi and Gangoji Temple. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 38 km from Guest House En.
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    • Onyado Nono Nara Natural Hot Spring
      Luxury
      Featuring natural hot spring baths on site, Onyado Nono Nara Natural Hot Spring is set in Nara, just a 3-minute walk from JR Nara Station. Free WiFi is available throughout the property, and private parking is available on site. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant. Kofuku-ji Temple is 15 minutes on foot. All rooms include a flat-screen TV and electric kettle in the room. Rooms have a private bathroom fitted with a bath or shower and bidet. For your comfort, you will find slippers, free toiletries and a hairdryer. Extras include a fridge and toothbrushes. There is a 24-hour front desk at the property. Free luggage storage service is provided. Todaiji Temple is 10 minutes by car from Onyado Nono Nara Natural Hot Spring, while Nara Park is a 20-minute stroll from the property. Osaka Itami Airport is 37 km away.
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    • Bakery Hotel Chateau D'or
      Mid-range
      Set in Nara, 1.5 km from Kofuku-ji Temple, Bakery Hotel Chateau D'or offers air-conditioned accommodation and a terrace. This 3-star hotel offers a 24-hour front desk, a shared lounge and free WiFi. The hotel has family rooms. All units in the hotel are fitted with a kettle. All guest rooms feature bed linen. A continental breakfast is available every morning at Bakery Hotel Chateau D'or. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Todai-ji Temple, Nara Prefectural Art Museum and Nara National Museum. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 37 km from Bakery Hotel Chateau D'or.
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    • Hotel Naranohamori
      Mid-range
      Set in Nara, 700 metres from Kofuku-ji Temple, Hotel 楢の葉守 offers rooms with air conditioning and free WiFi. The property is around 2 km from Nara Park, 4.3 km from Heijo Palace Ruins and less than 1 km from Nara National Museum. The hotel features family rooms. All rooms in the hotel are equipped with a flat-screen TV. The units feature a private bathroom, slippers and bed linen. Popular points of interest near Hotel 楢の葉守 include Todai-ji Temple, Kasuga Taisha and Nara Prefectural Art Museum. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 38 km from the accommodation.
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