Traditional performing arts can be enjoyed at this annual festival held since the 12th century.
For over 250 years, people have gathered at the base of Mt. Wakakusa in Nara on the fourth Saturday in January to watch the mountain..
At the Kasuga Taisha Shrine in Nara, more than 3,000 lanterns in the precincts are lit up.
Downtown Nara City is in the eastern side of the ancient Heijo Palace site, occupying the northern part of what was called the Gekyō (外京), literally the outer capital area. Many of the public offices (e.g. the Municipal Office, the Nara Prefectural Government, the Nara Police Headquarters, etc.) are located on Nijō-ōji avenue (二条大路) while Nara branch offices of major nationwide banks are on Sanjō-ōji avenue (三条大路), with both avenues running east-west.
The climate of Nara Prefecture is generally temperate, although there are notable differences between the north-western basin area and the rest of the prefecture which is more mountainous.
There is little large-scale industry in Nara Prefecture and one of the largest industries is tourism. With thousands of tourists visiting Nara each year, a large portion of government spending is devoted to promoting tourism in the area. Nara Park as well as the many temples and shrines sprinkled over the prefecture draw many visitors.
Many craftsmen also work in Nara, such as potters, painters, screen artists and sword makers. You can see them at Ganko Ittetsu Nagaya near Yamato Koriyama. Nearby is Toshodaiji and Yakushiji temple. The Katsuragi area is well known for its cotton industry.
Nara Prefecture has a population of about 1.4 million, Nara City has about 366,951 (2010 census) people and is the largest city in the prefecture. Only several thousand are foreign nationals, with most foreigners living here coming from nearby China or Korea with some from the Philippines or Brazil or they have settled here through marriage to local Japanese. Nara City, because of its proximity to the much larger Osaka and Kyoto, is an ideal base for commuting and is enjoyed for its peaceful and laid-back, quiet atmosphere.
Nara is most famous for its 1300 year history as it was the location of the first capital of Japan dating back to the Asuka period. Nara has many museums and old temples as well as displays of its archeological relics. Many of the festivals in Nara celebrate some of the ancient Buddhist pageants even today. Yamayaki is one of the biggest where Mount Wakakusa is set on fire by firemen in late January.