One Day in Nara, Japan

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If you are looking for a side trip destination from Kyoto, Nara is the perfect place to go.  Nara Prefecture is a Unesco World Heritage site known for its sacred deer and breathtaking scenery.  Nara is a short train ride from Kyoto, about a 46 minutes on the JR rapid express service.  Most visitors go for a day trip from either Kyoto or Osaka to Nara.

Nara has many beautiful gardens, galleries and landmark temples and shrines to visit due to once being Japan’s capital.  Upon arriving at Nara, make sure to visit the tourist office located at the train terminal to obtain a map of the city and directions on how to get to the tourist destinations.  Most sites are within easily accessible distance by the city loop bus, which you can catch from the JR Nara Station. 

Be sure to visit the following must see sites while in Nara:

Todai-ji temple

Todai-ji temple is one of Japan’s most famous temples, known for its 1,300 year old bronze statue of Daibutsuden (Great Buddha).

Kasuga Taisha

Kasuga Taisha is Nara’s most popular shrine.  It is most famous for the thousands of stone lanterns donated by its worshipers.  These lanterns can be found along the path to the shrine and in the shrine itself.  The lanterns are lit twice a year, attracting large crowds.  Kasuga Taisha lies on top of a hill and you will be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery as you walk along the woods on the way to the shrine.

Nara National Museum

The Nara National Museum is one of Japan’s most celebrated art museums, known for its extensive collection of Buddhist art.

Kofuku-ji

Kofuku-ji is a Buddhist temple, part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.  This picturesque temple is a must see in the city of Nara.

Also as you wonder between the temples and shrines that Nara has to offer, be sure to snap a picture by one of the sacred deer that walk freely around Nara.  These deer, which are one of Nara’s favorite attractions, will inspect you and get very close to you asking to be fed.  Feed them at your own risk.

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