24 Hours In Nara, Japan — What Else To Do In This Tranquil City Besides Playing With Deers

The first thought that comes to mind when Nara is mentioned is deers. Lots and lots of deers. Nara is famous for its free-roaming Sika deer which can be found wandering around the city. There are at least 1200 of … Continue reading →
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NARA COLLAGE TEXT

The first thought that comes to mind when Nara is mentioned is deers. Lots and lots of deers.

Nara is famous for its free-roaming Sika deer which can be found wandering around the city. There are at least 1200 of these nimble creatures in Nara and they are tame enough for people to pet and feed them.

However, did you know that the Nara deer used to be deemed as sacred? These graceful creatures were once revered and considered to be divine messengers of the gods. They were so enshrined that anyone found to have killed a deer of Nara were to face the death penalty.

The deers these days are no longer considered as sacred, but they still continue to be protected as national treasures. The city loves their deer so much that there are even signs reminding people to give way to them when they cross the road!

Nara is the perfect blend of both the past and present, making it a great place to make a day trip. If you’re new to the city and are clueless on what to add into your itinerary, here is a guide on what you can see, eat and do there.

Nara is easily accessible from Osaka as well as Kyoto and you can take a train to either Nara Station or Kintetsu Nara Station.

Aside from their massive obsession with deers, it is also interesting to note that Nara was Japan’s first permanent capital. Due to its rich past, this quaint city houses some of Japan’s most important cultural landmarks which include Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.

The main place to explore is Nara Park, where you can find most of the temples, museum, shrines and deers. However, if you’re keen on exploring the sites of Heijo Palace and Horyuji Temple, there are also buses that are able to bring you there.

Nara Deer Park

PLAY AND FEED DEERS

As mentioned earlier, Nara is famous for its gentle, free-roaming deers which can be seen wandering around the main parts of the city as well as Nara Park.

You can choose to purchase some biscuits from vendors located alongside the streets to feed them too. While the deers here are friendly, they can get a little aggressive if you withhold food from them, so try not to open the biscuits too obviously unless you want to be stampeded by a horde of hungry deers.

Top tip: If you bow at the deers, they will bow back. Reward them with some biscuits!

Todai-Ji TemplePhoto Credit: lexy_ray_

VISIT TODAI-JI TEMPLE 

One of the most famous and important landmarks in Nara is Todai-ji Temple. The intricately designed structure is one of the biggest wooden buildings in the world and is also home to the world’s largest statue of Buddha cast in bronze. While the statue is mostly made from metal, x-ray scans have revealed that treasures are hidden within its framework. 

406-1 Zoshicho
Nara 630-8211, Japan
Daily: 8am – 5pm
Nearest Station: Kintetsu-Nara

Isui-en GardenPhoto Credit: bymtw_

STROLL THROUGH ISUI-EN GARDEN AND YOSHIKI-EN GARDEN 

While many people have heard of Isui-en Garden, Yoshiki-en Garden is a less known hidden gem that is located nearby. Both gardens are shrouded in lush greenery and gorgeous blooms, making them great spots to snap some lovely photos as well as to meditate and take a breather from the hectic city life.

Isui-en Garden Japan
630-8208 Nara Suimoncho, 72-3
Daily: 9.30am – 4.30pm
Nearest Station: Kintetsu-Nara

Yoshiki-en Garden
1, Noboriojicho Nara
630-8213, Japan
Daily: 9am – 4.30pm
Nearest Station: Kintetsu-Nara

TOU NO CHAYAPhoto Credit: caihonglim

HAVE LUNCH AT TOU NO CHAYA 

Tou No Chaya is a small Japanese cafe that specialises in dishes that are served with tea rice gruel, which is essentially rice porridge cooked in green tea. This simple, traditional dish can rarely be found these days, so if you’ve always wanted to try some authentic tea rice gruel, this is a great place that you can do so at.

18 Minamijodocho Nara
630-8341, Japan
Daily: 11.30am – 4pm
Nearest Station: Nara

Kasuga Taisha ShrinePhoto Credit: mitaaninn

VISIT KASUGA TAISHA SHRINE 

Kasuga Taisha Shrine is Nara’s most celebrated Shinto shrine and it is dedicated to the deity who is responsible for protecting the city. The shrine’s offering hall is free for all but if you want to explore the inner area which contains the main sanctuary, you have to pay a small fee.

The shrine is also famous for its bronze and stone lanterns, which are donated by worshippers. These mesmerising lanterns are only lit twice a year during lantern festivals in February and mid-August.

160 Kasuganocho Nara
630-8212, Japan
Daily: 6am – 6pm
Nearest Station: Kintetsu-Nara

TAMUKEYAMA HACHIMAN-GU SHRINEPhoto Credit: sakamai1260

ADMIRE TAMUKEYAMA HACHIMAN-GU SHRINE 

Tamukeyama Hachiman-gu Shrine is a small, less-known Shinto shrine that is located up a hill behind Todaiji Temple. As it is rather overshadowed by the other shrines in the area, it’s more peaceful, which is great for people who want to avoid the hectic crowds at the more popular shrines.

434 Zoshicho Nara
630-8211, Japan
Tel: +81 742-23-4404
Nearest Station: Kintetsu-Nara

KOFUKUJI FIVE STORIED PAGODAPhoto Credit: ruudverstraeten

SNAP SOME PICTURES AT KOFUKU-JI TEMPLE & THE KOFUKUJI FIVE STORIED PAGODA 

The famous Kofukuji Temple is a Buddhist temple that features several buildings that are incredibly rich in history. Out of all the beautiful structures on the grounds, the most prominent one would be the five-storied pagoda which is 50 metres tall and Japan’s second tallest wooden pagoda.

Aside from the pagoda, you can also check out the Central Golden Hall which houses a large statue of the Yakushi Buddha, as well as the temple’s amazing art collection.

48 Noboriojicho
Nara 630-8213, Japan
Tel: +81 742-22-7755
Daily: 9am – 5pm
Nearest Station: Kintetsu-Nara

NARAMACHI MUSEUMPhoto Credit: guesthousesmq 

LEARN MORE ABOUT NARA AT NARAMACHI MUSEUM 

At the heart of Nara is Naramachi Museum, a great place for people to learn more about the rich history of Nara. The small yet well-curated museum has a variety of tools, signboards and other historical artefacts from the Edo and Meiji periods on display for visitors to learn about. Entry to the museum is free too!

14-2 Nishinoshinyacho
Nara, 630-8334, Japan
Tel: +81 742-22-5509
Daily: 10am – 5pm
Nearest Station: Kintetsu-Nara

HIGASHIMUKI SHOPPING STREETPhoto Credit: may_gio_d

DO SOME SOUVENIR SHOPPING AT HIGASHIMUKI SHOPPING STREET 

Higashimuki Shopping Street is a covered shopping arcade near Nara Park that is packed with souvenir shops and boutiques. You can head on over after a fun day of exploring to get gifts for your loved ones back home. There are also a plethora of eateries here where you can get a bite to eat to refuel.

5 Higashimuki Minamimachi Nara
630-8216, Japan
Tel: +81 742-24-4986
Nearest Station: Kintetsu-Nara

edogawa naramachiPhoto Credit: philmehz

HAVE DINNER AT EDOGAWA NARAMACHI 

For those of you who love unagi (eel), you need to have a meal at Edogawa Naramachi if you are ever in Nara. They specialise in grilled eel that is sourced from Kagoshima and this is usually served with a simple bowl of rice, miso soup and pickles. Their extensive menu also has a variety of other set meals for you to choose from.

43 Shimomikadocho Nara
630-8365, Japan
Tel: +81 742-20-4400
Daily: 11am – 9.30pm
Nearest Station: Kintetsu-Nara

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