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Nara was the first permanent capital of Japan, established in 710 AD and is now celebrating its 1300th birthday. Although the capital was soon moved to Kyoto where it remained for the next 1,000 years, Nara saw the development of Japan's first arts, crafts, and literature. Nara became the political and cultural center of Japan, and it established many shrines, temples, palaces, and pagodas. Most of Nara's historical buildings remain, and they are surrounded by a large and spacious park. Some of the bigger attractions are the bronze Buddha statue at Todaiji (pictured above), and Horyuji which is said to be the world's oldest wooden building. The presence of wild, free-roaming deer at Nara add a very special atmosphere to the area. Although most visitors make only a day trip to Nara, the historical and natural beauty of the city and the surrounding area warrant at least a couple of days of exploring. For more information about Nara please see our travel content partner Japan-Guide

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