Region
Kansai
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Nara
Population
1,442,862

Nara

Eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites guarded by some very hungry deer.

The ancient capital of Nara is home to some of the most important and impressive historical sites in Japan. The towering bronze Buddah at Todaiji temple is Nara’s jaw-dropping centerpiece, but it’s only one of eight UNESCO World Heritage sites all contained within a compact and very picturesque city.

Todai-ji temple in Nara

The magnificent Todaiji temple houses one of the tallest Buddha in Japan.

Festivals of Japan: Wakakusa Yamayaki Festival in Nara

Visitors to Nara will usually make the day trip out from nearby Kyoto via local or express train (30 – 45 minutes).

You can catch most of the highlights in around Nara Koen, a large green park filled with temples, shrines and immaculate gardens. The relics are well-supervised by the city’s famous deer, who use their protected status as godly messengers to their advantage, regularly harassing tourists for local shika senbei (rice crackers for deer) especially near Todaiji.

Most tourists who fall for the cracker trap instantly regret it, often being chased out of the park before they’ve even reached the temple.

Explore Nara's picturesque streets.

Explore Nara’s picturesque streets as evening sets in.

If you’re staying overnight, about 12 km outside of Nara, Horyuji temple is one of Japan’s oldest temples and contains some of the world’s oldest surviving wooden structures. Nishinokoyo to the west of the city center is where you’ll find Yakushiji and Toshodaiji temples.

January visitors will get a chance to witness the Wakakusa Yamayaki, an annual festival more than one hundred years old where the grass of Mount Wakakusayama is set on fire, along with fireworks, religious ceremonies and general festival revelry.

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Trivia

Festivals of Japan: Wakakusa Yamayaki Festival in Nara

Originating in the 18th century, the burning of Mount Wakakusa is one of Japan’s most spectacular winter festivals.

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How To Get There

Address

Nara, Nara Prefecture, Japan

By train

Nara is an easy day trip from either Kyoto or Osaka, with frequent and fast trains connecting destinations. From Kyoto, take the Kintetsu line which takes about 30 – 40 minutes and usually involves one transfer. If you have a JR pass, the JR line runs from JR Kyoto station to JR Nara and takes around 50 minutes. From Osaka’s Kintetsu-Namba station it takes about 40 minutes to Nara station.

By bus

There are overnight bus services running to Nara from Tokyo and back which take around 7 hours.

Where To Stay

Centurion Hostel Nara Heijokyo
  • Nijo Ojiminami 1-3-1 Mi Nara 7F Nara-Shi, Nara 630-8012
  • 8.8/10
  • 0.3 km
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Nara Royal Hotel
  • Hokkeji 254-1 Nara-Shi, Nara 630-8001
  • 8.1/10
  • 0.3 km
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Takamado
  • Omiya-cho 6-5-3 Nara-Shi, Nara 630-8115
  • 7.5/10
  • 0.3 km
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Hotel Essor (Adult Only)
  • Nijoojiminami 2-1-82 Nara-Shi, Nara 630-8012
  • 8.5/10
  • 0.5 km
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