7 Things to do in Nara – Nara Travel Guide

Japan Destinations

7 Things to Do in Nara – Nara Travel Guide

Nara is a city located in the east of Osaka, south of Kyoto. It was the first permanent capital of Japan and was established in the 8th century. In this arcitle, I especially talk about atractions in Nara City, and not the larger are of whole Nara prefecture (region).

What is Nara?

The city is known for its many historical landmarks, including the Todai-ji Temple, which houses the world’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha, and Kasuga-taisha, a beautiful Shinto shrine. Nara is also home to many deer, which are considered sacred and protected in the city. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nara is a popular tourist destination in Japan and attracts many visitors from around the world to see its historical and cultural sites.

Quick History of Nara

Nara, located in the Nara Prefecture of Japan, is one of the oldest cities in Japan with a rich history dating back to the 8th century. It was the first permanent capital of Japan, and during this period, known as the Nara period (710–794), the city served as a center of politics, culture, and Buddhism.

In 710, Emperor Genmei established the capital in Nara, and the city quickly developed into a center of politics and culture. The emperor built many temples, shrines, and other public works, and also invited scholars and artists from China and Korea to come to Japan. Nara became an important center of Buddhism, and many famous temples, including Todai-ji and Kasuga-taisha, were built during this time.

In 784, the capital was moved to Kyoto, but Nara continued to be an important center of Buddhism and culture. The city was also home to many powerful Buddhist monasteries, which played a major role in politics and society during the Heian period (794–1185).

All major spots are in a walkable Area by Nara Park.

Nara refers Nara Prefecture (KEN – region) and Nara city.  There are many important spots in Nara, but the major tourist spots are gathering in Nara city center. Everything is in walking distance from Kintetsu Nara station. If you have mobility issue, do not hesitate to take a bus or a taxi. Let’s wear a comfortable shoes and head to Nara!

7 Things to do in Nara

There are many things to do in Nara, as the city is rich in history and culture.

1.Visit the Todai-ji Temple

This is one of the most famous temples in Japan and is home to the world’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha.

2.Visit Nigatsudo

Nigatsudo which is part of Todaiji temple is also an important place overlooking the city of Nara.

The Omizutori celemony in Nara in February.

3.Explore Kasuga-taisha

This beautiful Shinto shrine is located in the Nara Park and is known for its many bronze and stone lanterns.

4.Meet the Deer at Nara Park

Nara is home to many wild Sika deer which are considered sacred and protected in the city. Visitors can interact with the deer and feed them.

Many tourists actually visit Nara for this as a main charm of Nara.

5. Visit the Nara National Museum

This museum houses a collection of Buddhist art and artifacts from the Nara period.

6. Visit the Kofuku-ji Temple

This temple is one of Nara’s most famous and historically significant temples.

7. Take a stroll through the Naramachi and Pond.

This is a historical district that has been preserved to show the traditional architecture and lifestyle of Nara merchants during the Edo period.

Foods in Nara

  1. Kakinoha-zushi: This is a type of sushi that is wrapped in persimmon leaves and is a traditional dish in Nara.
  2. Narazuke – Nara style pickles: A variety of pickles with dark brown color which are made from different vegetables such as eggplant, cucumber, and ginger, they are popular side dish.

Events in Nara

Should I stay over night? Ryokan Experience in Nara.

Nara is a smaller city and you can see most of its main attraction in one day or two days, while Kyoto is much larger and it will take a few days to see everything it has to offer. I stayed at Nara’s ryokan called Musashino near Kasuga Taisha shrine, to experience Nara’s atomosphere and foods more.

It’s not a natural hot-springs, but the ryokan in Nara has a traditional astomosophere.

Trying different Sake from Nara’s local sake producers.


Should I go to Kyoto or Nara?

Both Nara and Kyoto are popular tourist destinations in Japan and offer a wide range of historical and cultural experiences. Nara is considered the birthplace of Japanese culture and history, with many UNESCO World Heritage sites and temples, it’s also home to many wild Sika deer which are considered sacred and protected in the city, making it a unique and peaceful place to visit. On the other hand, Kyoto is considered the cultural capital of Japan, it has more than 2,000 temples, shrines and other historical buildings, and is known for its traditional arts and crafts, gardens, geisha and other cultural experiences.

It depends on what you’re looking for in your trip. If you’re interested in exploring the ancient roots of Japan and its traditional culture, Nara is an excellent choice. If you’re looking for a more diverse range of experiences and a taste of traditional Japan, Kyoto is the place to be. Both cities are easily accessible from Osaka and other nearby destinations, so it’s possible to visit both cities during your trip.


How to get to Nara

In case you walk around Nara on foot, Kintetsu Nara station is convenient rather than JR Nara station. If you take bus to get around, the bus leaves from both stations.

from Kyoto

The JR Nara Line from Kyoto Station takes about 45 minutes to get to Nara Station. Alternatively, you can also take the Kintetsu Nara Line, which takes around 50 minutes.

from Osaka

The easiest and most convenient way to get to Nara from Osaka is by train. From Osaka Station, you can take the JR Yamatoji Line. From Osaka Namba station, you can or the Kintetsu Nara Line, which takes around 35 minutes to reach  Kintetsu Nara Station.




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