Places, Images, Times & Transformations


City located in the northern part of Nara Prefecture, central Honshū. The capital of Japan from 710 to 784, Nara is today the seat of the prefectural government. Spared from destruction in World War II, it still preserves a large number of cultural relics. Constructed in 710 and patterned after the Tang dynasty capital of Chang'an, the original city at one time boasted a population of 200,000. The city was later expanded to the east, where the Kasuga Shrine and the temples Kōfukuji and Tōdaiji were situated. Today, Nara Park, famed for its tame deer and set against rolling hills, is a favorite tourist spot. Many shrines and temples are scattered throughout the city. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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