The capital of Japan in the 8th century, Nara is a treasure trove of heritage and tradition. An easy day trip into the city illustrates the reverence of the Japanese for nature and the ancient ways. Major attractions are located in Nara Park, walking distance from the two main railways stations.
WHAT TO SEE
Todai-ji The majestic temple and its gigantic bronze Buddha remain jaw-dropping after many centuries.
Kofuku-ji One of Nara’s most important temples, famous for its five-storey pagoda.
Isuien Garden Tea ceremony houses harmoniously blend in with two lovely gardens.
Nara National Museum Traditional art museum housed in a late 19th century French-style building.
Kasuga-taisha Shinto shrine known for its numerous bronze and stone lanterns.
Naramachi Narrow lanes lined with old merchant townhouses.
WHAT TO DO
Feed the residents Let Nara Park’s almost-tame deer cozy up to you with the help of deer biscuits.
Wakakusa Yamayaki Watch the grass burning festival on Wakakusayama every 4th Saturday of January.
WHAT TO BUY
Deer-themed souvenirs, Nara bleached fabric items, sake, green tea and deer antler crafts. Shops line Sanjo-dori, on the way to Nara Park from JR Nara station. From Sanjo-dori, turn into the covered arcades of Mochiidono and Higashimuki.
By train: JR and Kintetsu lines from Osaka take around half an hour, the ride from Kyoto takes slightly longer.
By limousine bus: Leaves hourly from Kansai Airport and takes 90 minutes.
Central Nara is walkable at a leisurely pace. Rental bikes are available close to JR Nara and Kintetsu Nara stations. City buses run in a loop, passing by the train stations and major points around the park.
Tourist Information Offices are located at JR Nara Station, Kintetsu Nara Station, Sanjo-dori Street and at Okumura Memorial Hall. narashikanko.or.jp