Nara Day Trip Guide: How To Get To Nara Deer City
Nara is a relatively small but oh-so-charming town. Who wouldn’t love to explore a place where countless wild deer roam the streets and greet visitors with a polite Japanese bow? Nara’ location makes it very easily accessible from all parts of the country. This guide helps you plan a Nara day trip from Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo and also covers the best things to do in Nara once you’ve reached the city of deer.
SKIP STRAIGHT TO:
TAKING A NARA DAY TRIP FROM KYOTO
A lot of visitors travel to Nara from Kyoto and the best way to travel from Kyoto to Nara is by train. You can choose between two train operators to reach Nara: JR West and Kintetsu Railways.
JR NARA LINE
If you hold a Japan Rail Pass or a JR Kansai Wide Area Pass, it might be best to take the JR Nara line from Kyoto Station to JR Nara station. Trains here run three times per hour and the trip takes around 70 minutes.
If you want to get to Nara faster, you can take the Miyakoji Kaisoku express train, which only takes 45 minutes. The only downside with this option is that the express train doesn’t start running until after 9:30am.
Taking the first rapid train from Kyoto to Nara would get you there by 10:20am – a little late or a Nara day trip. I recommend arriving in Nara no later than 9:30 otherwise the day trip will be too short.
There are several trains running between Kyoto Station and Kintetsu-Nara Station. The Kintetsu-Limited Express train is the fastest option with only 35 minutes and run twice daily. To take this train, yo need to have a seat reservation for Limited Express trains and book your tickets in advance at the counter or machine.
An alternative option is the Kintetsu-Kyoto local line, which takes 45 minutes. You need to be careful when choosing this options as only a few of the trains go directly to Nara – some other trains requrie a transfer at Yamato-Saidaiji Station. Read up on these detailed instructions before making this trip.
Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll get to Nara Deer City from Kyoto in about one hour giving you plenty of time to explore Nara in one day.
TAKING A NARA DAY TRIP FROM OSAKA
Getting from Osaka to Nara is actually super easy and fast. It only takes 55 minutes to get from Osaka Station to JR Nara Station via the JR Yamatoji Rapid Service.
Trains run frequently, too, making a Nara day trip a no-brainer if you’re based in Osaka.
TAKING A NARA DAY TRIP FROM TOKYO
If you don’t stay in the Kansai area (near Osaka or Kyoto) but are determined to do a Nara day trip – it’s possible to get to Nara all the way from Tokyo.
First, you have to take the Tokkaido-Sanyo Line Shinkansen from Tokyo Station or Shinagawa Station down to Kyoto Station. If you take a Kodama or Hikari train you can use your JR pass and reach Kyoto in 2 hours and 40 minutes. From Kyoto Station, you can take either the JR Nara line or the Kintetsu line.
This whole trip takes around 4 hours to get from Tokyo to Nara Park and would set you back around ￥13,000 per Shinkansen ticket – an expensive day trip! I wouldn’t recommend this route – unless you have a JR Pass.
AIRPORT BUS BETWEEN KANSAI AND NARA
GETTING AROUND NARA
This Nara one-day itinerary is completely walkable as all attractions aren’t too far away from each other. If you need transportation, however, the public buses in Nara are very well-connected.
For those arriving at JR Nara Station, the red Gurutto bus route might be the ideal choice. This bus makes a circular route around Nara and also stops directly at Nara Park. Gurutto buses run from 9:00am-5:00pm and tickets only cost ￥100, making it a cost-effective option for anyone that can’t or doesn’t want to walk around Nara the whole day.
1 DAY NARA ITINERARY
Nara Park is a large park in the center of Nara City. The park itself was built in 1880 and is one of the main locations where the wild deer stay. You can also buy deer crackers here, the official treat to feed the animals. The crackers are made of wheat flour and rice bran and don’t contain any sugar making them completely safe for visitors to offer the animals.
Nara Park also features some of Nara’s main attractions, including Todaiji, Kasuga Taisha, Kofukuji and the Nara National Museum.
Besides the adorable deer, Tōdai-ji Temple truly is the highlight of this one day Nara itinerary. This temple is home to both the largest bronze Buddha statue and the largest wooden structure in the world. The admission fee is ￥600 to enter the Great Buddha Hall.
You will also be surprised to notice that the sacred Nara deer freely roam the temple grounds here.
This temple was first established in the year 669 in Kyoto but moved to Nara in 710 when it became the nation’s capital. The oldest remaining parts of the temple include the Three Story Pagoda, the Five Story Pagoda, and the Eastern Golden Hall. Because of their long history, these three buildings are all designated National Treasures. This makes Kofukuji a must-visit during any one-day Nara itinerary.
Deer and temples are not the only attractions in Nara. If you are craving some delicious kakigori before leaving Nara, be sure to stop by House Kibaco near Kintetsu Nara Station. Kigori is a traditional Japanese dessert made with shaved ice and different syrups. Besides their best-seller blue butterfly pea and citrus kakigori, they also do limited seasonal flavors. The desserts go for around ¥1200 or $10.75 and are perfect to take some rest in between sightseeing in Nara.
How to Protect Nara’s Deer
Nara’s deer have gotten used to people over the years and live unusually close to humans. That’s why it’s necessary for visitors to Nara to exercise great caution in how to interact with the deer to ensure a peaceful coexistence with the deer of Nara Park.
Take the following into consideration when visiting Nara.
If you visit Nara with a vehicle, always watch out for deer crossing the road. The deer of Nara are known to jump out suddenly.
Deer cannot digest human food – do not feed the deer anything other than the official deer crackers for purchase. Do not to leave behind plastic bags or other trash as this may endanger the lives of the deer due to accidental ingestion. For this reason, numerous trash cans are located throughout Nara for your convenience and the safety of the deer.
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