Nara is the capital of Nara Prefecture, on the southern end of the island of Honshu, near Osaka. Nara is a serene and beautiful city popular with tourists from within Japan and around the world. It has a population close to that of Canberra, at around 360,000 residents.
Nara is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprised of eight locations: the temples Todaiji, Kofukuji, Gangoji, Yakushiji, Toshodaiji, the Kasuga Grand Shrine, Kasuga-yama Hill Primeval Forest and the Heijo Palace Site. As a result of its ancient and noble past, Nara displays a wealth of historical and cultural legacies for all to enjoy. Nara has the honour of preserving the world's oldest wooden structure at Horyuji Temple and the world's largest wooden structure, the Todaiji Temple.
Nara's serene temples and shrines are surrounded by beautiful gardens. Nara Park, more popularly called 'Deer Park', covers 525 hectares in central Nara and is famous for over 1,000 deer wandering through the park. Over the last three decades Nara citizens have raised $100,000 for the development of the Canberra-Nara Park found within Lennox Gardens by Lake Burley Griffin.
The city of Nara specializes in making sumi (ink stones) and calligraphy brushes and is renowned for its traditional crafts. The people of Nara celebrate many festivals and ceremonies during the year. One of the most spectacular is the Grass-burning Ceremony at Mt Wakakusa, when the surrounding hills and grasslands are set alight. The Water-drawing Ceremony at Nigatsudo Hall and the Lantern-lighting Festival at Kasuga Grand Shrine are also quite breathtaking, while the more recent addition of the Nara Candle festival is mirrored in Canberra's own festival in October of each year.
After the devastating Canberra bushfires in 2003, the Nara City Government and Council made a very generous donation of $150,000 to the ACT Bushfire Appeal. The donation, which included contributions from local citizens, was a testament to the goodwill and depth of the relationship.
Nara University High School
The Nara University High School have a strong connection to Canberra sending a contingent of students to visit their sister city and perform at the Canberra Nara Candle Festival annually since 2005. The students are continuing with their cross-cultural studies with an emphasis on Australia and Canberra in particular, by embarking on online cultural-exchange activities this term with students from Dickson College, Amaroo School and Narrabundah College. Nara University High School students wish to convey a message of goodwill to the people of Canberra and offer their support from Nara.
CLAIR Sydney (The Japan Local Government Centre) is a special government body of Japan that facilitates the international activities of Japanese prefectural and municipal governments. CLAIR Sydney contributes to the promotion of cultural, social, and economic exchange between Australia/New Zealand and Japan through activities such as administrating the Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme and supporting sister city exchanges.
Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) is a government body that promotes Japan internationally as both a leisure and business travel destination. JNTO Sydney Office services both Australia and New Zealand as the go-to resource for Japan-related travel by providing extensive information on our website, regular newsletters, and an enquiry service to help you plan your next trip to Japan.