Kyoto & Nara
Ancient Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan for over a thousand years.
Surrounded by scenic hills to the north, west and east, which the founding Emperor Kammu described as a natural fortress, the city reigned from 794 to 1868 as the cultural and artistic centre of the nation - a position it still holds today thanks to being unscathed by war, allowing its many temples and shrines to flourish.
Before Kyoto, Nara was the first established capital of Japan in 710. Nara, located less than one hour from Kyoto and Osaka is now famous for its Deer Park with hundreds of wild deer roaming Naras streets. Deer are considered messengers of the Gods in Japan’s Shinto religion so are treated no different to people in Nara.
Due to its past as the first permanent capital, it remains full of historic treasures, including some of Japan's oldest and largest temples, especially Todaiji Temple which is the largest wooden structure in the world and home to a magnificent statue of Buddha.