Nara (näˈrä) [key], city (1990 pop. 349,349), capital of Nara prefecture, S Honshu, Japan. An ancient cultural and religious center, it was founded in 706 by imperial decree and was modeled after Chang'an (see Xi'an), the capital of T'ang China. Nara was (710–84) the first permanent capital of Japan. The noted Todai-ji temple has a 53.5-ft-high (16.3 m) image of Buddha, said to be one of the largest bronze figures in the world. Nara Park, the largest (1,250 acres/506 hectares) city park in Japan, includes the celebrated Imperial Museum, which houses ancient art treasures and relics. Near the city is wooded Mt. Kasuga, the traditional home of the gods; its trees are never cut. Also nearby is Horyu-ji, founded in 607, the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan, with the grave of Jimmu, the first emperor. Nara prefecture (1990 pop. 1,375,478), 1,425 sq mi (3,691 sq km), is largely mountainous and its population centers are in and around the capital. Agriculture, crafts, and tourism are the area's main industries.
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