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Things To Do In Nara - April 2024 Events


April is generally one of the best months for getting out and about in Nara Prefecture. The best things to do in Nara in April are cherry blossom viewing, especially night cherry blossoms or ‘yozakura’, and flowery blooms at some of Nara’s best loved temples. There are festivals and fun at Taima-dera Temple, Tanzan-jinja Shrine, and Koriyama Castle. We also highlight three of the best nature hikes in Nara Prefecture.



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Best Places for Night Cherry Blossom Viewing in Nara

The cherry blossom season in Japan is always eagerly anticipated and there are many amazing hanami spots around Nara prefecture. However, night cherry blossom viewing, or ‘yozakura’, have their own charming appeal. 


Here are some of the best places for night cherry blossom viewing across Nara:

Saho River:  The Saho River Kawaji Sakura Festival happens between the Shimochokei and JR Sahogawa Bridges lasting until 8 pm. It’s a 5-minute walk from Kintetsu Shin-Omiya Station and the most popular and closest night viewing spot to Nara City.

Yoshino Mountain: If you go to Yoshino in the afternoon and stay into the early evening, you can enjoy many cherry trees lit-up especially if you walk down the mountain instead of paying for the ropeway.

Tsubosaka-dera Temple: There are many towering cherry blossom trees at Tsubosaka-dera Temple, but you can enjoy night viewing against the backdrop of their giant Buddha statues.

Koriyama Castle: Popular in general as a cherry blossom spot in Nara, the evening light-up adds a little extra fanfare - especially for photography lovers.

Takada River: For a night river stroll and festive food stalls along the road, the Takada River is another popular spot. It’s a short distance from Yamato-Takeda Station on the Kintetsu-Osaka Line.



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Best Spring Flowers in Nara

Spring is not just about cherry blossom viewing! There are many fantastic blooms to enjoy in April, not to mention upcoming Nara summer flowers. Along the way, you can view cherry blossoms anyway while visiting some of Nara’s best-loved historic sites: 



1. Rhododendrons at Muro-ji Temple

Take a journey through the verdant beauty of east Nara for a wonderful display of rhododendrons. These flower bushes bloom from around mid-April and you can catch them in shades of deep red, changing into pink and then white. Muro-ji Temple is a unique cultural heritage site famous for its history as a ‘women’s temple’ and the smallest five-story pagoda in Japan. You can also throw in a day of Nara spring hiking on your way to Muro-ji Temple.


Entry: ¥400

Date: mid-April to early-May

Location: 78 Murou, Uda, Nara, 633-0421

Transport: You need to take a bus from Muroguchi-ono Station which is just two stations down from Hasedera Station. There is only one bus per hour and it’s ¥500 one way. 





2. Spring Flowers at Hase-dera Temple

Apart from lovely displays of weeping cherry blossoms, other flowers in bloom at Hase-dera Temple are peonies, azaleas, rhododendrons, and magnolias. The cherry blossoms generally only last until mid-April so plan accordingly.  You can visit Muro-ji and Hase-dera Temples in one day, but we recommend first going to Muro-ji Temple (earlier the better) because of the infrequent bus timetable. 


Fee: ¥500

Location: 731-1 Hase, Sakurai, Nara, 633-0112.

Transport: From Kintetsu-Nara Station take a train to Yamato-Saidaiji, change to the Kashihara Line, get off at Yamato-Yagi, and then take a Kintetsu-Osaka Line train bound for Nabari. From Osaka, change trains at Tsuruhashi.





3. Peonies at Taima-dera Temple

Taima-dera Temple is one of Nara Prefecture’s cultural jewels. It is located in Katsuragi, the home of Japanese Sumo. The temple has various gardens, but spring peonies are a special delight.  April peonies also coincide with the Princess Chujo Festival or Nerikuyo Ceremony. Princess Chujo is a legendary figure in Buddhist women’s culture and she is said to have woven the temple’s famous mandala from lotus threads. At the temple you can also enjoy a traditional Shojin Ryori vegan meal, but for lunchtime you must make a reservation. The Kehayaza Sumo Museum is only a 10-min-walk to Taima-dera Temple.


Entry: ¥500

Date: 14th April, 16:00: Princess Chujo recitations and parade

Location: 1263 Taima, Katsuragi, Nara, 639-0276.

Transport: From Kintetsu-Nara Station take a train to Yamato-Saidaiji and change to a train for Kashihara-jingu-mae. From there, take the Kintetsu Minami Osaka Line to Taimadera. From Osaka, change trains at Tsuruhashi.



4. Canolas and Sakura at Fujiwara Palace Ruins

If you're an avid photographer, or a local resident looking for somewhere different, why not head to the Fujiwara Palace Ruins in Kashihara City? This once ancient capital, dating back to the 1st century, is now an open field and park location. There are various flower fields like cosmos and lotus, but the yellow canola field comes to bloom as rows of adjacent cherry trees blossom.


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Fee: None 

Location: Daigocho, Kashihara, Nara, 634-0072.

Transport: From Yamato Yagi Station there’s a community bus and the 4th stop gets you to the Kashihara City Fujiwarakyo Museum. The canola flower gardens are a short distance to the north. Alternatively, it’s a 30-minute-walk from either JR Man'yo Mahoroba Line’s Unebi Station, the Unebi Goryo-mae Station on the Kintetsu Kashihara Line, or Miminashi Station on the Kintetsu Osaka Line. If you get off at JR Unebi Station, you can walk to the site via Ofusa Kannon Temple. They have a beautiful rose garden, but it only blooms from around mid-May. The temple is also loved for its gorgeous traditional tea rooms.



5. Wisteria at Man'yo Botanical Garden

The Man'yo Botanical Garden is a small but lovely garden annexed to the Kasuga-taisha Shrine. It has a grove of over 200 trees of 20 varieties. The Wisteria usually only start to bloom in the last week of April, but if you go at this time there are often fewer people than at the beginning of May. 


Fee: ¥500

Date: Last week April to May 10

Location: A short walk due west along the main path from Kasuga-taisha Shrine





Yamato Koriyama Castle Festival

The Yamato Koriyama Castle Festival runs from March 24 to April 7. During this time, there are various events held in and around the castle ruins. Here are the main events:

  • March 24, Sun: Queen Himiko ceremony

  • March 30, Sat: 102nd annual goldfish show

  • March 31, Sun: White Fox procession

  • April 7, Sun: Music concert


Transport: From Kintetsu-Nara Station take a train to Yamato-Saidaiji and change to a train for Kashihara-jingu-mae and get off at Kintetsu Koriyama Station. From JR Nara Station, take a train bound for Tennoji and get off at JR Koriyama Station (first stop). The castle is equidistant to both stations.



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Kemari Festival at Tanzan-jinja Shrine

The Kemari Festival happens at another of Nara’s historic and scenic spots, the Tanzan-jinja Shrine. Kemari is an ancient type of courtly football. Shinto priests in full regalia perform various ceremonies and put on an amusing show with a game of Kemari. This festival also happens in the Autumn. The Tanzan area is also famous for its superb sake. Outside the shrine you can sample and buy Tanzan or other Nara sake brands from vendors. There’s a small restaurant and a number of souvenir shops.


Fee: ¥600

Date: April 29, 11:00 am

Location: 319 Tonomine, Sakurai (Tanzan-jinja Shrine)

Transport: From Kintetsu-Sakurai Station south exit (南出口) catch the Community Bus bound for Tanzan-jinja (談山神社). The first bus is 09:45 and there is one bus per hour. The price is ¥500 one-way.



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Frolic with Deer on Mount Wakakusayama

From mid-March and into late-December, you can enter the lower grassy mound area of Nara’s much loved Wakakusa-yama Mountain. Kids love to roly-poly here and you can also hike further up for some great views of Nara City. 


Fee: ¥150

Time: 09:00 to 17:00



Get Into Some Emerald Spring Nara Hiking

Early April is a perfect time for cool and breezy hiking when new leaves and mossy boulders radiate an emerald green iridescence. There are three great places to enjoy such spring hikes: 



1. Mitarai Valley Hiking

The Mitarai Valley is one of Nara Prefecture’s most picturesque hiking locations. If you leave around 9 am or earlier, you will arrive in Tenkawa at least before noon. The most popular hike is a 4.5 km easy going trail to the onsen town of Dorogawa. You can inquire at the Nara Visitor Center for more information and they have trail maps in English. Kintetsu Railways offers a Dorogawa Onsen Mitarai Valley one-day ticket (洞川温泉・みたらい渓谷散策きっぷ). The package includes return bus and train fares and a discounted onsen ticket. Prices vary depending on whether you depart from Nara, Osaka, or Kyoto.


Transportation: Take a train bound for Yoshino from Kashihara-jingu-mae Station and get off at Shimoichi-guchi Station. Take the bus bound for Dorogawa Onsen and alight at Tenkawa Kawai.





2. Muro-ji Temple Hiking Trail 

In Nara’s scenic Uda district, there are a couple of easy hiking trails that run from Muro-ono-guchi Station to Muro-ji Temple. Most people walk from the station, where there are hiking information boards, and then take a bus back. The more easy going オプションコース (Option Course) is slightly longer but general follows the bus route and passes the great stone Buddha.  The more country-lane route is the 東海自然歩道・大野時・室生寺コース (Tokai Nature Trail Ono-ji to Muro-ji Temple Course). Ono-ji Temple has two 300-year-old weeping cherry blossom trees and the course continues along a branch of the Uda River to the Muro Art Forest (室生山上公園芸術の森), and Saiko-ji Temple (西光寺) to Muro-ji Temple (室生寺). A much longer route takes you via the Muro Dam and Ryuchin-jinja Shrine (龍鎮神社).





3. Akameguchi 48 Waterfalls Hike

The Akame 48 Falls are just over Nara’s east border with Mie Prefecture in Nabari district. Akame-guchi station is only 5 stops from Hase-dera Station on the Kintetsu-Osaka Line. From Akame-guchi Station, there’s a bus to the park. If you're lucky, you may get to see some salamanders but the scenery is stunning nonetheless. There are also onsen to enjoy, various foods, and you can take part in some Ninja Training. Plan for a day outing and leave as early as possible to avoid any crowds.


Entry Fee: ¥500

Location: Nagasaka 671-1, Akamecho, Nabari, Mie, 518-0469

Transport: From Kintetsu-Saidaiji Station take a train bound for Kashihara-jingu-mae and get off at Yamato-Yagi Station. From there, change to the Kintetsu-Osaka Line bound for Nabari.



Thank you for reading Thing To Do In Nara - April

 

Author: NARA Visitor Center & Inn


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