Japan’s first permanent capital was established in the year 710 at Heijo, the city now known as Nara. As the influence and political ambitions of the city’s powerful Buddhist monasteries grew to become a serious threat to the government, the capital was moved to Nagaoka in 784.
Nara is located less than one hour from Kyoto and Osaka. Due to its past as the first permanent capital, it remains full of historic treasures, including some of Japan’s oldest and largest temples. And of course you can see a lot of deer!
If you want to make two days trip, here is our 2 Days Suggested Itinerary in Nara.
- Suggested Itinerary
- Guided Tours & Hotels in Nara
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9am-10am Head to Nara
The most convenient way is to use JR line from Kyoto Station to Nara Station. It takes about 45 minutes (only 7 stations away from JR-Kyoto station to JR-Nara station with Miyakoji rapid service).
And the cost is 710 yen. Your fun trip is about to start!
10:30am Kasuga Taisha Shrine
Kasuga Taisha Shrine is Nara’s most celebrated shrine. The shrine was established around the same time as the capital and is dedicated to the deity responsible for the protection of the city. Kasuga Taisha shrine was also the tutelary shrine of the Fujiwara, Japan’s most powerful family clan during most of the Nara and Heian Periods. Like the Ise Shrine, Kasuga Taisha had been periodically rebuilt every 20 years for many centuries. In the case of Kasuga Taisha, however, the custom was discontinued at the end of the Edo Period. You can go by bus from JR Nara station.
11:30am Wakakusa Mountain
From Kasuga shrine you can walk to Wakakusa mountain.This mountain is about 350 meters tall and affords unobstructed views over Nara City. Tourists are allowed to climb Mount Wakakusayama all year round except during winter. The grassy slope of the mountain is lined by cherry trees that are usually in full bloom around early April. A steep trail leads along the leftmost edge of the slope to a plateau halfway up the mountain with great views over the city. It takes about 15-20 minutes to reach the plateau and many people do not hike farther. An additional 20-30 minutes would get you to the mountain’s peak.
11:45am Nigatsudo & Sangatsudo
Built on a hill, Nigatudo has wonderful views from its terrace back over Todaiji, the five-story pagoda at Kofukuji Temple, Nara Park and as far as Mount Ikoma on the border of Osaka on a clear day. To reach the platform at the top of the temple ascend by either the stone steps or the covered wooden walkway.
12pm Todaiji Temple (World Heritage Site)
Todaiji (Great Eastern Temple) is one of Japan’s most famous and historically significant temples and a landmark of Nara. The temple was constructed in 752 as the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan and grew so powerful that the capital was moved from Nara to Nagaoka in 784 in order to lower the temple’s influence on government affairs. Todaiji’s main hall, the Daibutsuden (Big Buddha Hall) is the world’s largest wooden building.
1pm Lunch time!
2pm Nara Park
The park is home to hundreds of freely roaming deer. Considered in Shinto to be messengers of the gods, Nara’s nearly 1,200 deer have become a symbol of the city and have even been designated as a natural treasure. Nara’s deer are surprisingly tame, although they can be aggressive if they think you will feed them. Deer crackers are for sale around the park, and some deer even have learned to bow to visitors to ask for food!
3pm Kofukuji Temple
Kofukuji Temple was first built in 730, and was most recently rebuilt in 1426. At 50 meters, the five story pagoda is Japan’s second tallest, just seven meters shorter than the five story pagoda at Kyoto’s Toji Temple. Kofukuji’s pagoda is both a landmark and symbol of Nara.
In Naramachi you will experience the atmosphere of old times created by old Machiya (historic merchant townhouses) and small alleys full of interesting sights. You can see some cute cafes and shops.
・4pm Back to JR Nara station
・5pm JR Kyoto station
If you have a time; Isuien garden
Isuien means “garden founded on water”, and the garden’s name is derived from the fact that its ponds are fed by the small adjacent Yoshikigawa River. You can enjoy Japanese tea while savor the beauty of the garden.
Guided Tours & Hotels in Nara
Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency offering guided tours in Japan. From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we will organize the best tours for you! If you want to explore around Japan to learn more histories and backstories of the area, our knowledgeable and friendly guide will happily take you to the best spots. Also, we can provide you with any assistance for your upcoming trip in Japan, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions/need some help!
Hotel recommendation in Nara;
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Thank you! I didn’t plan that much on my trip, but this guide to Nara inspired me to make a day trip there from Kyoto and it was full but excellent. All thanks to this post of yours.
I would add that the deer are not at all polite. They’re aggressive beasts once they know you have food!