Nara is one of Japan’s prefectures and is a popular destination for its friendly, roaming deer that casually loiter and meander in its streets. We couldn’t miss out on this opportunity to make friends with some cute deer, so on day 8 of our ten-day trip in Japan, we stopped by Nara on our way from Kyoto to Osaka. I finally got to meet Bambi and as you can see from the picture below, it turned out that Bambi loves crackers. Keep on reading to see how to take a day trip to Nara:
How to Get There:
To get to Nara, you can take one of the rail lines (JR or Kintetsu) to Nara station. The details for how to travel from Kyoto to Nara are outlined clearly here.
Once you’re in Nara, you have a couple of different options for getting to the deer park. You can either go on a 30-minute walk or you can opt for a bus pass which allows for unlimited use of the Nara Kotsu buses. You can get these bus passes from the JR rail station. There are also lockers available inside the JR station for luggage storage. In case they run out of lockers though (which happened to us), try going to the Nara Visitor Center, which is right outside the JR station, for storage.
Being the good Americans we are, we naturally opted for the bus pass. Here is a map of the route to the park from the station:
What to Do in Nara:
The main draw for Nara is the deer park, where you can find hundreds of deer walking around or sitting down, in the case of the deer pictured below. The deer have actually been designated a natural treasure and have become a symbol of the city, featured on many Nara-themed souvenirs.
For the most part, the deer are pretty friendly but they CAN get pretty aggressive if they see you with crackers. One of the deer even followed me around and started pulling at my pants to get my attention lol. To provide you with a glimpse of what that looks like, the kid below is also getting similar treatment… Once they realize you have no more food though, they’ll typically leave you alone (just like me…).
They do take good selfies though.
Another popular attraction is Todaiji Temple, a temple located adjacent to the park. It is one of Nara’s most famous sites and it actually used to have SO much influence on politics that the capital was moved AWAY from Nara to Nagaoka in 784.
Where to Stay:
We didn’t spend the night in Nara because we wanted to spend more time in Osaka, but if you’re planning on doing so, a quick Airbnb search shows 60+ options for booking only one month from now.
1. To feed the deer, you can buy a stack of crackers from a multitude of vendors at the deer park. Make sure you have cash for this!
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1. How to Plan for 10 days in Japan where you can see how our itinerary was planned and get ideas on how to plan your own trip.
2. How to Use Google to Find Insanely Cheap Flights so you can save money on flights!
3. What to do in Hakone where you can learn more about the relaxing, onsen-filled town of Hakone, conveniently located an hour away from Tokyo.