I had no idea there were so many shrines and temples in Japan but after seeing so many during our trip, I’ve really been able to reflect on the ones that had a lasting impression. The Kasuga Grand Shrine, located in Nara, is one of them.
The coolest thing about the shrine (and why I think it was one of the top 2 shrines we saw on our trip) are the 3,000 stone lanterns that lead up to it! 3,000! I can only imagine how long it took to make all of them and place them in neat little rows on the path to the shrine. What an incredible sight! As if that weren’t cool enough, twice a year (Feb. 2-4 and Aug. 14-15) all the lanterns are actually lit up (can you imagine having that job?)… so, if you’re headed to Nara around that time, you should definitely add it to your must-see list — and honestly, even if your trip to Nara falls outside of those dates, you should still visit this place. It’s just awe-inspiring and magical to see all those stone lanterns!
Once you make it to Kasuga Shrine, you can also pay admission to see everything up close. We missed out on this since we were there before it opened (it opens at 9am), but we did catch the hundreds of brass lanterns that hang in the shrine, too. Still pretty amazing, if you ask me.
I think one of the best parts about our visit to Kasuga Shrine is that we did it in the early morning hours when the place is practically empty! It’s so crowded in Japan that having any moment or attraction to yourself is something to savor. The path was empty save for a family of deer roaming outside the shrine, the morning air was crisp, and the whole scene unreal and tranquil at the same time. All of those elements made it the perfect way to start the day.
Here are some last pictures from our visit: