Ukimido and Ara Pond: Nara’s Hidden Gem

Nara, Japan’s first capital city, is a cultural and historical treasure trove that attracts visitors from all around the world. One of the most serene and picturesque spots in Nara is Ara Pond and Ukimido, a tranquil pond with a small temple in the middle. The pond is said to have been created in the 8th century as a reservoir for rice paddies. In the 17th century, an order of famous Buddhist monks constructed Ukimido, the temple in the middle of the pond. The site is famous for its stunning views of the pond, temple, and surrounding mountains, as well as for its serene atmosphere, which makes it a perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

History of Ara Pond and Ukimido

Background information about the pond

Ara Pond is located in the northeastern part of Nara City, near Nara Park. It is a natural pond that has been enlarged and improved over the centuries. The pond is approximately 400 meters long, 300 meters wide, and 4 meters deep. It has a circumference of about 1 kilometre and a small island in the middle of the pond with a temple known as Ukimido.

Origin and Significance of Ukimido

Ukimido, which means “floating temple,” is a small temple that appears to be floating on the surface of the pond. The temple was built by the order of the famous monk, Kohfukuji Kanchibo, in the 17th century. The temple’s location on the pond was chosen to create a place for meditation that would offer a sense of serenity and harmony with nature.

Throughout history, Ara Pond and Ukimido have been associated with various historical events and figures. During the Heian period, the pond was used as a reservoir for the rice paddies of the surrounding area. Later, in the Edo period, the pond became primarily recreational in nature, such as boating and fishing. The temple was also used as a place of worship and meditation for Buddhist monks. Today, the site is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, who come to enjoy the serene beauty of the pond and temple.

Ara Pond and Ukimido Today

Ara Pond and Ukimido offer visitors a unique opportunity to experience the natural beauty of Nara. The pond features lush greenery, and the temple in the middle of the pond adds to the serene atmosphere of the site. The pond and temple are especially stunning during cherry blossom season when the trees around the pond are in full bloom.

Today, Ara Pond and Ukimido are important cultural sites in Nara, attracting visitors from all over the world. The pond and temple are a National Historic Site and the Nara City Government manages it directly. The site is not only a popular tourist destination but also an important place for meditation and relaxation for the locals.

Visitors to Ara Pond and Ukimido often describe their experiences as peaceful and relaxing. The serene atmosphere of the pond and the temple provides an escape from the noise and stress of city life. Many visitors enjoy taking a stroll around the pond or taking a boat ride to experience the beauty of the site fully. The view from Ukimido, in particular, is highly praised for its stunning beauty, especially when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

Best time to visit Ara Pond and Ukimido

The best time to visit Ara Pond and Ukimido is during the spring and autumn seasons when the weather is mild, and the foliage surrounding the pond is in full bloom. During the spring, cherry blossoms surround the pond, creating a stunning pink-and-white landscape. In the autumn, the leaves of the trees surrounding the pond turn vibrant shades of red and orange.

Festivals and events

There are several festivals and events held at Ara Pond and Ukimido throughout the year. In late October, the “Ara-matsuri Festival” takes place at the site, featuring traditional music, dance, and food. During the summer months, the “Nara Toka-e Festival” is held nearby, which features beautiful lanterns and decorations throughout the city.

How to get there

Transportation options

There are several transportation options available to reach Ara Pond and Ukimido. The nearest train station is JR Nara Station, which is approximately a 30-minute walk from the site. Alternatively, visitors can take a bus from JR Nara Station to the “Sarusawa-ike Iriguchi” bus stop, which is located near the pond.

Directions to the site

Once at the “Sarusawa-ike Iriguchi” bus stop, visitors can follow the signs and walk approximately 5-10 minutes to reach Ara Pond and Ukimido. The site is located in a beautiful natural setting and is easily accessible to visitors of all ages and abilities.

Visitors to Nara should plan a visit to Ara Pond and Ukimido, which is easily accessible by public transportation and offers a serene and beautiful setting for a day trip or a longer stay.

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