Hidden away on the east side of Nara Park you’ll find the city’s most significant shrine, where the protector god of the city is enshrined. The shrine is as old as the city itself, and has served its central Shinto religious site ever since.
Visitors can access the offering hall for free, then choose to continue on to the inner buildings for a small fee. Inside, you’ll find some lovely, ornate architecture, and hundreds of bronze lanterns hanging from the eaves. Visit in February or August, and you’ll have the chance to see these lanterns lit up during the biannual lantern festivals.
The woodland which surrounds the shrine is a sight in itself, with giant trees reaching up high above. With a dozen auxiliary shrines on the approach, and countless carved stone pillars set among the trees gathering moss, the forest has a mystical feel to it. Go for a wander around, watching Nara Park’s deer peacefully wandering around the statues, and you’ll surely get a sense of the natural harmony which Japan’s native religion represents.