World Heritage / Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara

Criteria: (ii) (iii) (iv) (vi) | Date of Inscription: 1998 | Location: Nara Prefecture | Justification for Inscription


Things to see

Kasuga Taisha Shrine

To-kondo and Goju-no-to
Hanging lanterns
Honden (Main Hall)
Honden (Main Hall)
The Onmatsuri Festival of Wakamiya-jinja
The Onmatsuri Festival of Wakamiya-jinja
Kasuga Taisha Shrine was established in the current place to protect the Heijokyo in 768AD. Due to a legend that one of the four gods, Takenomikazuchi-no-mikoto, once landed atop Mt. Mikasayama riding a deer, these animals have since been regarded as sacred messengers of this god. Today, the deer in Nara Park, the place Kasuga Taisha Shrine is located, are designated as monuments of nature.
During the Heian period, as the Fujiwara family increased their authority by marrying into the Imperial family, Kasuga Taisha Shrine prospered with the Emperor often visiting the shrine and many of the aristocracy making pilgrimages in order to pay their respects.
Today, Kasuga Taisha Shrine retains its glory and is still surrounded by the Kasuga-yama primeval forest, amidst which the bright vermilion shrines offer a splendid contrast.
Stone and Hanging lanterns
Over 2000 stone lanterns now stand along the approach from the tori gate to the shrine proper and some 1000 lanterns or so hang around the shrines and along the adjoining corridors. Contributed by various classes through the ages including the aristocracy, samurai warriors, merchants, and commoners, on the eve of spring, February, 14th, and again on the 15th of August, they are lit up and fascinate locals and tourists alike with their mysterious atmosphere.
Honden (Main Hall)
The Honden was initially constructed in the Kasugazukuri style of now typical shine architecture, a form widely found in the Kinki district and is designated a national treasure. Four shines stand in a row to form the Honden and between them enshrine the four gods who protect the Fujiwara family. The original Honden was built in the Heian period and the current shrines were reconstructed in 1863.
Wakamiya-jinja (Wakamiya Shrine)
Wakamiya-jinja is a branch shine of Kasuga Taisha Shrine and founded in 1135. The current shrine was reconstructed in 1863 in identical form to the Honden. The Onmatsuri Festival of Wakamiya-jinja is designated as an important intangible cultural property and was founded in 1136, to pray for fertility and national security and the festival today is said to be the most extravagant festival in the Nara area.
Homotsu-kan (Treasure House)
Kasuga Taisha Shrine owns a collection of treasures contributed by the Imperial House, the aristocracy, and samurai over the centuries. This Homotsu-kan in particular offers sacred treasures, military arms, mirrors, furniture, lanterns, instruments for use in dance and music, masks and pieces of calligraphy that have all been kept and preserved in the shrine from the Heian period onwards.

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