While Nara is a smaller Japanese city it shouldn’t be missed, here’s why:
1. Nara is easy to access.
Chances are if you’re headed to Japan Osaka and/or Kyoto are on your travel destination list. Nara is easily accessible from both of these locations. The Kintetsu trains are the fastest option taking about 30 minutes or less and they are also covered by the Kansai Thru Pass. The JR trains are only about 10-15 minutes slower and are covered by the JR pass. While I personally recommend spending more than one day in Nara, it is possible to do just a day trip!
Tip: If you do plan to spend the night I highly recommend the hostel Guesthouse Nara Komachi as a cheap but lovely location.
2. Nara is a great escape from the city.
If you’re planning to cover a lot of ground you’re most likely going to stick to the major cities, but sometimes it’s really nice to see a smaller city or escape out into the beautiful nature of Japan. Nara is close enough to the cities to be easy to get to but it’s far enough away that you can escape the busy city streets of Osaka and enjoy the peace and relaxation only a walk through a forest can give.
3. Nara is a good place to learn and experience Japanese history and culture.
Nara was historically Japan’s first permanent capital, and it also currently houses eight world UNESCO heritage sites. There are temples, gardens, and museums that all have historical significance. Nara also has a decent shopping area, located right next to the Kintetsu train station, that has souvenirs as well as local shops and plenty of wonderful food. If you’re lucky, you may catch the theatrics of the men putting on a show as they make green tea mochi on Sanjodori st.
4. Nara has a wealth of National Treasures.
Among the amazing temples there are many museums sprinkled throughout Nara. Most notable is the Nara National Museum which houses. Other notable museums include the Kohfukuji National Treature Hall, located at the Kohfukuji Temple, and the Prefectural Museum of Art which is free for tourists if you show your passport!
5. Cute Deers Galore!
Overall with its ease of access, great historical value and wonderful connection to nature a visit to Nara should be included on your trip.