Even before Nara was founded, the surrounding plains were sprinkled with burial mounds, palaces and temples. A few of these still survive, of which the most remarkable is Hōryū-ji, an historic temple about 10km southwest of Nara in Ikaruga district, which also includes the Chūgū-ji nunnery. Closer to Nara, the two temples of Nishinokyō district, Yakushi-ji and Tōshōdai-ji, continue the story of the transition from Chinese to Japanese art and architecture. The route described below starts at Hōryū-ji and then works back towards Nara. All of these temples are served by the same buses (routes #52 and #97) from Nara’s JR and Kintetsu stations.

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