Nara, Kyoto - Stein Travel
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Nara

The city of Nara, 26 miles (42km) south of Kyoto, could be regarded as the place where Japan's culture was formalised. The city, originally called Heijo, became the first permanent capital of the country in 710. Although its capital status only lasted for 74 years, they were years that entrenched and enshrined Japan's arts, crafts and literature. Nara flourished as a political and cultural centre and thus was blessed with numerous temples, shrines, pagodas and palaces, which today attract locals and foreigners intent on glimpsing historic Japan. Most of Nara's historic treasures are contained in a vast park which has been designated a World Heritage Site, making sightseeing easy and pleasurable. Highlights are Todaiji, the huge temple that contains Japan's largest Buddha statue, and Horyuji, the temple containing the world's oldest wooden structures.

Information & Facts

Language

Japanese is the official language. Most Japanese people will have studied English at school, but few can speak it well or understand what is said to them.

Money

The currency is the Japanese Yen (JPY), which is equal to 100 sen. Major credit cards are accepted in the larger hotels and stores, but most Japanese operate with cash. Cash and travellers cheques can be exchanged in banks, post offices and currency exchange bureaux. Banks are usually open Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm. Travellers cheques offer the best exchange rate and are best taken in US dollars. ATMs do not accept all credit and debit cards; only the international ATMs in post offices, airports and some major stores.

Time

Local time is GMT +9.

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