Nara, established in Japan’s Kansai region in 710 AD, was the country’s first permanent capital city. Today the abundance of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, atmospheric gardens, and some of Japan’s oldest Buddhist temples make this compact city a must-see attraction, easily accessible from Osaka. Here’s how to visit.
Nara Day Tours
It’s easy to reach Nara from Osaka via either high-speed train or bus, and it’s well worth the effort, especially if you’re returning to Osaka in the same day. A typical day trip to Nara lets you experience Todai-ji, a spectacular ancient Buddhist temple—and the world’s largest wooden building—that houses Japan’s largest Buddha statue, the Daibutsu (Great Buddha). During your visit, admire the 3,000 stone and bronze lanterns of Kasuga Shrine and the free-roaming deer of Nara Park (Nara-koen, also called Deer Park).
Nara is close enough to Osaka that it’s possible to combine your Nara tour with stops at other points of interest in the area, like Kyoto or Kobe. Depending on the option you choose, you might find yourself walking through the UNESCO-listed Sagano Bamboo Forest, snapping photos of Kinkaku-ji temple (the Golden Pavilion), touring the Kyoto Imperial Palace, or sinking your teeth into Kobe’s world-famous beef.
Things to Know
Spend a day delving into the history and culture of Nara, or combine your visit with trips to Kyoto and Kobe as well.
Travel from Osaka to Nara by bus, private car, or high-speed train.
Day trips can last anywhere from seven to 13 hours, depending on the option you choose.