The Kasuga Shrine is popular tourist attraction in Japan. Found in the Kyoto area, it has a history that dates back to 768, and though it has been demolished and rebuilt numerous times according to Shinto tradition, it supposedly retains its original form. The current structure was completed in 1863 and is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The city of Nara is where you will find the Kasuga Shrine. Also known as the Kasuga Grand Shrine, this sacred structure falls under the classification of a Shinto shrine and was a favorite place of worship for members of the powerful Fujiwara family. Centuries after this clan came and went, the Kasuga Grand Shrine in Nara was awarded with a government rank of the first order, and to this day, it maintains a high level of respect both within Japan and outside the country.
No visit to Nara would be complete without some time spent at the Kasuga Shrine. The bronze lanterns alone merit its inclusion on the agenda, and they are only complemented by more lanterns that are made of stone. There are actually 3,000 total lanterns at the shrine. At certain times of the year, all of the lanterns are lit, and this is generally considered to be the best time to drop by. These times are mid-August and early February.
Another option for things to do when visiting the Kasuga Grand Shrine in Nara is have your fortune read. This can be done in English, and the price is more than reasonable. All fortunes are written on slips of paper, and those that are frowned upon by visitors most often end up tied to the branch of a tree. This supposedly negates the fortune, thus allowing the person to release their newfound burden.
The history of Japan is certainly fascinating, and is accompanied by a rich mythology. The shrine's legendary history has it that the mythical god Takemikazuchi rode a white deer into Nara. As such, deer enjoy a sort of sacred status in Nara and are regarded as National Treasures. You can commonly see them roaming through town, and snack vendors even sell special deer biscuits that can be fed to the animals. The best place to see deer in Nara is Nara Park, which conveniently surrounds the Kasuga Shrine.
It doesn't cost anything to wander the grounds of the reddish-colored Kasuga Shrine, though you might want to bring some money along for the botanical garden and the Homotsuden. The shrine's garden is known as Shin-en and features hundreds of plant species that are native to Japan. As for the Homotsuden, it is a museum of sorts that revolves around military gear and costumes. The grounds are open daily, while the garden and museum are open Tuesday through Sunday.