45 minutes on the express local train from Osaka brings you to the town of Nara, capital of Japan prior to Kyoto in 794AD.

Nara is home to two principal attractions: the Todai-ji (in the town itself) and Horyu-ji (around 10km) away. These two temples/shrines would be worth seeing anyway but that they also house the largest and oldest (respectively) wooden structures in the world make them – and the town of Nara – a must-see.

Nara appears a typical Japanese town – garish shops, noisy Pachinko parlours and messy overhead cables – providing little evidence of the treasures and havens of tranquillity therein.


Of course, being a typical Japanese town, it has at least two train stations, numerous bus lines (including a very handy loop line) which all run on time and cheap and delicious food on every corner…