Born in Aomori Prefecture, Japan, in 1959, Nara graduated with an MFA from the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music, Aichi Prefecture, in 1987. A contemporary of Takashi Murakami, his practice encompasses portraiture in which the subjects appear to stare back at the viewer; loosely drawn works on paper; sculptures made of wood, FRP, ceramic, bronze; and multi-media installations that completely redefine the gallery space. His work also includes photographs that document the daily creation of his works, as well as the variety of encounters he has during his travels. He completed his studies at the Kunstakademie, Dusseldorf, in 1988, and after living in Cologne, he returned to Japan in 2000. Since the mid-1990s he has been the subject of numerous exhibitions at museums and galleries in Europe, the United States, Japan, and Asia.