After exploring Osaka, we headed to Nara, Japan.
It is known for its Park where you can see tons of bowing deer. But as we explore this beautiful part of Japan, we found out that you can do a lot more than meet these wonderful creatures.
So here is a quick guide on what are the things you can do in Nara, Japan if you only have one day.
How to get around Nara?
Kansai Thru Pass gives you unlimited train, subway, and bus rides in Kansai. Going to Nara from Osaka/Kyoto is just about 30 30-minute train ride.
IC card is also a great option which you can just top-up any time when needed.
How to Stay Connected?
We got a 4G WiFi (Japan Pick Up) for Japan (Unlimited Data) from Klook. I prefer this option because my phone tends to drain a lot slower when I use a pocket wifi.
But if you prefer a sim card, you can also get an unlimited data 4G SIM Card. You can choose the sim’s validity days from 5 to 31 days which is great!
Things you can do in Nara, Japan
1. Nara Park | Feeding the deers
One of the top reasons to visit this place is to see and hang out with the free-roaming deers in Nara Park.
FUN FACT: Nara’s deer are considered sacred animals. They are called “the helpers of gods” or the “messengers of gods” and because of this these deers have been carefully protected for many years under the law.
Deer biscuits/crackers also called shika senbei are available all over the park for only 200 yen.
- The deer cannot digest human food.
- Please throw your trash properly in the bins. We do not want the deer to accidentally eat trash.
2. Todai-ji Temple | Visit the Big Buddha
Todai-ji 東大寺 was built in 752 and today it is one of the most visited historical landmarks in Nara, Japan.
Entering Todai-ji you will see the Nandaimon Gate. It is a large wooden gate with two big statues representing the Nio Guardian Kings.
Daibutsuden (Big Buddha Hall) is where you can see Japan’s largest bronze statue of Buddha (Daibutsu) which is a 15-meters tall. The Buddha represents Vairocana and is flanked by two Bodhisattvas. Until today, it held the record as the world’s largest wooden building.
Other attractions in the Todai-ji temple complex:
- Todai-ji Museum – Inside the museum, you can see the temple’s large collection of religious art and cultural treasures. You can buy the ticket at the same time when you enter Todai-ji.
- Nigatsudo Hall – Every march, Omizutori ceremonies are held in this hall. Going to pNigatsudo Hall is a quiet and picturesque street not far from the Daibutsuden Hall.
- Hokkedo Hall – is one of the oldest surviving structures in the Todai-ji temple complex.
- Kaidando Hall – it houses the statues of the four heavenly kings (shitenno).
- Shosoin Storehouse – storehouse constructed in the 8th century.
- Former site of the Lecture Hall – All that remains of the former temple building are some stone foundations in the ground.
- Site of former East Pagoda – In the past, Todai-ji’s Daibutsuden Hall had two seven-storied pagodas which were each about 100 meters tall. There are plans to rebuild the pagoda to its former glory.
Opening Hours: Open every day from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm (April to October) / 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (November to March)
Admission fee: 600 yen (museum only), 1000 yen (museum and Daibutsuden Hall)
3. Isuien Garden | Visit Neiraku Museum too
Isuien is a beautiful Japanese garden that incorporates various elements, including the utilization of Todai-ji Temple’s Nandaimon Gate and Mount Wakakusayama as “borrowed scenery.” Isuien means “garden founded on water”, the name comes from the garden’s design, where its ponds are supplied by the nearby Yoshikigawa River. Isuien has two parts: a front garden and a rear garden. Tea houses are also scattered around the garden’s area.
Neiraku Museum is an extensive assortment of ancient Chinese bronze artifacts, mirrors, and seals, and it has also a wide range of Korean pottery.
Opening Hours: Open every day from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm (until 5:00 pm in April and May)
Admission fee: 1200 yen
4. Kofuku-ji Temple | Roam around the temple grounds
Kofukuji (興福寺, Kōfukuji) is a five-storied pagoda with 50-meters height. It is Japan’s second tallest wooden pagoda, only seven meters shorter than Toji Temple in Kyoto.
Kofuku-ji, is the family temple of the influential Fujiwara clan during the Nara and Heian Periods, was founded in 710, coinciding with the establishment of the capital. At its peak, the temple complex boasted over 150 buildings.
Opening Hours: Interior of temple halls and museum: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The temple grounds are open to explore 24 hours.
700 yen – National Treasure Museum
300 yen – Eastern Golden Hall
900 yen – National Treasure Museum and Eastern Golden Hall
500 yen – Central Golden Hall
5. Mount Wakakusayama | Panoramic views of the City
Mount Wakakusayama, standing at approximately 350 meters, offers panoramic views of the city. Open year-round for tourists, except in winter, with a nominal entrance fee.
A steep trail along the left edge ascends to a plateau halfway up, offering fantastic city views. It takes 15-20 minutes to reach this plateau, where many visitors pause. Continuing for an additional 20-30 minutes leads to the summit.
If you do not want to climb, you can sit and enjoy the grassy incline with cherry trees, typically in full bloom in early April. We visited during the spring season.
Opening Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (Mid-December to late March)
Admission fee: 150 yen
6. Mizuya Chaya | Traditional teahouse
This traditional and very cute teahouse, sits between Kasugataisha Shrine and Todaiji Temple. Resembling a scene from a Samurai drama, it’s charmingly positioned by a small river. Despite its autumnal beauty, the teahouse serves refreshments year-round, from hot udon in winter/spring to shaved ice in summer, accompanied by traditional sweets. Inside, a few tables are available, or you can opt for the red-covered benches outside, shaded by parasols on sunny days.
7. Nakatanidou | Live Mochi Show
This is a well-known traditional Japanese mochi rice cake. They have a live-making demonstration and you can witness the traditional art of making mochi (sticky rice cake) performed by some of the nation’s fastest rice pounders. We got lucky to see on during our visit.
They typically offer yomogi mochi, which are green rice cakes crafted with Japanese mugwort. These delicacies are filled with anko, a sweet red paste made from azuki beans, and delicately dusted with kinako, a blend of roasted and sweetened soybean flour.
They serve their mochi fresh, still warm, deliciously chewy, and unbelievably soft.
Price: 180 yen each
Accommodations in Nara, Japan
We explored Nara, Japan for only one day. It was only a day trip and we got to see a lot.
If you are planning to stay longer here are some of the accommodations you can check out.Booking.com