Things to do in Nara

  • Sumo

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Nara 奈良 is located in Kansai region of Japan; about less than an hour time from Kyoto and Osaka. I believe people know about Nara because of the deer that run everywhere, but actually there are more than deer over here. There are the country’s best temples and shrines, fine gardens, and museums for visitor to explore.

For full itinerary, check out the Japan Trip 2016: 10D9N Autumn in Kyoto, Osaka, Nara & Arima

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I got the 1 day Kintetsu Rail Pass at ¥ 1,500 as this pass provides the unlimited rides on Kintetsu Railway and Nara Kotsu Bus Line within the designated areas. It took only 30minutes from Kintetsu Namba Station to Kintetsu Nara Station.

Depends on how you arrange the itinerary, you can actually travel to Kyoto, Nara and Osaka with this pass. 2-day Kintetsu Rail Pass is available too!

Things to do in Nara

1. Zen at Kofukuji 興福寺
A Buddhist temple that was once one of the powerful Seven Great Temples in Nara. Kofukuji consists a numerous significant buildings and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site listed as the “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara”. Its five-story pagoda is the second-tallest in Japan.

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Getting here:
By Walking: About 5 mins walk from Kintetsu Nara Station or 20 mins walk from JR Nara Station
By bus: from JR Nara Station, take the clockwise running loop bus no. 2 or bus bound for Kasuga Taisha and get off at Kencho-mae bus stop.

2. Feed the beauties in Nara Park
Deer have become the symbol of the city and there are so many beautiful deer everywhere once you stepped walk towards the temples and park. Get yourself some deer crackers around and park and feed these beauties. Pay attention to these deer as they will bow to you and asked to be fed. So cute!

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3. Learn about Japanese Buddhist art in Nara National Museum
Located inside Nara Park, an art museum which displays Japanese Buddhist art. If you are a fan, do spend some time here.

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Nara National Museum
Opening hours | 9.30am to 5pm
Closed on Mondays
Entrance fee | ¥ 520

4. Take in fresh air in Yoshikien Garden 吉城園
A beautiful Japanese garden that is named after the Yoshikigawa River, a small river that runs beside the garden. Yoshikien Garden is composed of 3 gardens – a pond garden, a moss garden and a tea ceremony garden. You will be able to see all these 3 gardens in 1 place.

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Getting here:
Yoshikien Garden is about 15 minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station.
From JR Nara Station, take buses bound for Aoyamajutaku or Kunimidai-hachichome to Oshiagecho bus stop which takes about 5 mins from the station.

Opening hours | 9am to 5pm
Closed from 28th December to February
Entrance fee | ¥ 250 for locals; FOC for foreign visitors. (Must show your passport)

5. More in Isuien Garden 依水園
Located just next to Yoshikien Garden, it is an attractive Japanese garden with a variety features. It is divided into 2 parts, the front garden and a rear garden, with a number of tea houses scattered throughout.

We were too kiam to pay for a visit. Hence we just zen in the Yoshikien Garden that is FOC for foreign visitors.

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Getting here
Isuien Garden 依水園 is about 15 minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station.
From JR Nara Station take buses bound for Aoyamajutaku or Kunimidai-hachichome to Oshiagecho bus stop which takes about 5 mins from the station.

Opening hours | 9:30am to 4.30pm
Closed on Tuesdays except in April, May, October and November; New Year holidays
Entrance fee | 900 yen

6. Zen in Todaiji 東大寺
Also known as the Great Eastern Temple, is one of the Japan’s most famous and historical temple in Japan. The main hall, Daibutsuden or also known as the Big Buddha Hall is the world’s largest wooden building that housed one of the Japan’s largest bronze statues Buddha. Very impressive! Do spare some time to tour around and zen in the main hall.

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Getting here:
Located in the northern part of Nara Park, about 30mins walk from Kintetsu Nara Station or 45 mins walk from JR Nara Station.

Daibutsuden Hall
Opening hours |
8am to 16.30pm (November to February)
8am to 5pm (March)
7.30am to 5.30pm (April to September)
7.30am to 5pm (October)
Entrance fee | ¥ 500

7. Find the hidden udon in Nara
Yes, right here in Mentouan 麺闘庵 and expect a queue during peak hours.

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Eh???? Beancurd pocket? A small pouch in clear broth? Where’s my udon???!

Mentouan 麺闘庵 is famous for its kinchaku kitsune udon. Kinchaku means pouch, the udon is lined within the kitsune (fried beancurd) which act like a pouch shape. When you open up the pouch, you will be able to find the chewy slurp-y udon noodles lying within.

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It was a simple yet filling dish. The texture of the udon was chewy and adsorbed the essence of the umami broth.

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Mentouan 麺闘庵
30-1 Hashimotocho, Nara
奈良市橋本町30-1
Opening hours | 11am to 5pm
Closed on Tuesdays

Getting here:
About 5 mins walk from Kintetsu Nara Station

8. Witness the mochi pounding at Nakatanidou 中谷堂
There is mochi pounding performance on and off and they will pound the mochi at a dramatic speed with wooden pestle along with cheers and shouts. You will hardly miss out this place as visitors will flock in to witness the mochi pounding.

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Of course, must try out this super soft and warm fresh Yomogi Mochi; generously filled with red bean paste and dusted. The sweetness was just right; the texture was awesome which gave the unforgettable moment in the palate. I have to say, this is the best mochi I ever had! Priced at ¥ 130 piece. You will regret if you buy only one. The mocha was superb!

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Nakatanidou 中谷堂
奈良縣奈良市橋本町 29
Opening hours | 10am to 7pm

9. Shop in Higashimuki Shopping Arcade
Located closed to Kintestu Nara Station, this is the covered shopping arcade that offers a good selection of restaurants and omiyage (souvenirs) to bring home.

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Higashimuki Shopping Arcade
15 Higashimuki-nakamachi, Nara
奈良市東向中町15

Getting here:
About 3 mins walk from Kintetsu Nara Station

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Time to plan for a Momiji Trip???

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