Nara

I guess so many people wrote something about it, so it’s pretty discouraging even to attempt to write something “new.” 

But as a Fox, I’m pretty shameless, so let’s try.

I sincerely believe that every human being is unique, and with that comes a different opinion. I didn’t want to visit Nara, by ani means it’s a beautiful town but not in the monsoon season. Especially if you attempt to get some pretty pictures from the forest and old shrines. It’s wet, dirty, and cold because you will get soaking wet in a couple of minutes. 

And yet, despite all arguments I just wrote, I couldn’t say “no,” to my mother, who was ”VERY” excited to see bowing deer. 

That’s why I made my own investigation about Nara along the way, and want to share it with you. Here it will be more facts and destinations you should consider, and if you want more story type things, you should click here. If you prefer all the facts in one place, you should continue reading.

I know that Google may help with the “Top 10 attractions in Nara”; the problem is that that kind of search usually mentions only the most popular one. And with that, you’ll get a BIG amount of tourists; I’m on the other hand, picked my places based on 50/50 raite. It means that half of them are trendy, and the other half not so intensely crowded.

Tōdai-ji is a Buddhist temple complex that was once one of the powerful Seven Great Temples

Japan’s first permanent capital settled in the year  710 at Heijo, the city now known as Nara (奈良). Before that date, the capital used to be moved to a new location whenever a new emperor ascended to the throne. 

However, as the political ambitions and influence of the city’s monasteries grew and became a severe threat to the government, the capital was moved ones again from Nara to Nagaoka in 784. But that didn’t stop ambitious people, so in a few years, capital was moved to Kyoto.

Nara is located ideally for the day trips, or weekend travels, less than one hour from Kyoto and Osaka. Because of its reach history and beeing the first permanent capital, the city remains full of historic treasures, including some of Japan’s oldest and largest temples.

How to travel between Nara and Kyoto

I’m an old school traveler, and prefer to use trains 🙂

 You can choose between two railway companies, JR and Kintetsu, both provide train connections between Kyoto and Nara:

By Japan Railways (JR)

Direct, 45 minutes, 710 yen one way, two times per hour

Miyakoji rapid trains operate every 30 minutes between Kyoto Station and JR Nara Station. 

The one-way trip takes 45 minutes, costs 710 yen, and is covered by the Japan Rail Pass.

 For the same fare, the trip could also be made by twice-hourly local trains in 75 minutes.

By Kintetsu Railways

0-1 transfers, 35-45 minutes, 620-1130 yen one way, multiple times per hour:

Two times an hour, you can catch nonetheless, then – limited Express. I can’t say that I’m a big spender during my travels, but Sakura Liner gives you good airplane experience. Deluxe seats have a reclining function, footrest, and electric outlet, which mainly is a big positive moment when you are traveling.

 You should treat yourself and choose limited Express, trains take about 35 minutes and cost 1130 yen for the one way trip from Kyoto Station to Kintetsu Nara Station. 

Alternatively, there are hourly direct express trains that take 45 minutes and cost 620 yen one way. There are additional connections by express trains if you do not mind transferring once at Yamato-Saidaiji Station. The Japan Rail Pass is not valid on Kintetsu trains.

Passes and Tickets

The Nara Bus Pass provides unlimited use of Nara Kotsu buses around Nara. It comes as a 1-Day Pass for 500 yen that covers central Nara and the Toshodaiji/Yakushiji area, a 1-Day Pass Wide for 1000 yen that additionally covers the Horyuji area, and a 2-Day Pass for 1500 yen that additionally covers the Asuka area. The pass is on sale at the bus ticket offices across the street from Kintetsu Nara Station and inside JR Nara Station.

A sort of an extension of the Nara Bus Pass’ 1-day wide version is the 1-Day and 2-Day Kintetsu Rail Pass, which is available to foreign tourists only. In addition to the buses around Nara (as far as Horyuji), it also covers unlimited rides on Kintetsu local, rapid and express trains between Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto. The 1-day pass costs 1500 yen while the 2-day pass costs 2500 yen.

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