Ask anyone about what they know about Nara and they’ll most likely come up with a list similar to this: Nara Deer Park, Todaiji and perhaps the capital city’s old town of Naramachi. But all those destinations lie in Nara city. Nara Prefecture is almost twice as large as the metropolis of Tokyo but has only a fraction of the population and its vast area hides a plethora of amazing rural destinations. Now, there’s a handy compact guidebook that highlights some of the countryside’s unsung heroes — say hello to The Alternative Guide to Nara. Best of all? It’s free!

The Alternative Guide to Nara

Many of us are already familiar with Nara’s illustrious past as the nation’s capital and its significance as an ancient cultural and spiritual center. But what about Nara now? And what about Nara outside of the crowded city, where most of the tourists tend to swarm?

The Alternative Guide to Nara introduces 43 lesser-known places in the city and beyond to explore. Roughly 70% of the destinations, experiences and places to stay are located outside of Nara city, giving plenty of inspiration for off-the-beaten-track explorers. Nara’s countryside is largely untouched and there is a whole host of exciting natural environments, historic sites and classic cuisine just waiting to be discovered.

While it may be hard to envision planning a trip anywhere right now, this guide offers a slew of excellent options for future reference.

Where to Find It

From April 8, you can pick up a hard copy of this free guidebook at embassies across Tokyo and at most tourist information centers in Nara Prefecture. If you can’t wait until then, or you’d rather browse a digital copy below.