Nara Travel Guide

The historic seat of power and faith in Japan, Nara has some of the most authentic and breathtaking culture in the entire country — and also friendly deer!

Nara Featured Food Experiences

Nara Featured Restaurants


Sukiyaki Kappo Kitsune

Lunch: ¥7,000-18,000
Dinner: ¥18,000-18,000

Kuramoto Ryori Maruto Shoyu

Lunch: ¥5,000-10,000
Dinner: ¥10,000-15,000

Nara Nikon

Lunch: ¥15,000-20,000
Dinner: ¥20,000-30,000

Da Terra

Lunch: ¥6,000-8,000
Dinner: ¥10,000-15,000

Lying to the east of Osaka and south of Kyoto, Nara Prefecture is a popular day trip destination, but with enough to fill a whole month! The region has enjoyed huge significance in Japanese history as at times the political, military, and spiritual heart of the country. In fact, the very first fixed capital of Japan was modern day Nara City, then known as Heijo, in 710 AD.

Plenty of this history still stands in the region, particularly in the rural Sakurai area. Nara City also has plenty for itself. In the city park you’ll find Todaiji Temple and its gigantic carved buddha — once the head temple of all Buddhism in Japan — as well as forest shrines tucked among ancient trees.

This park isn’t just home to spirits and buddhas: it also has by far the most famous deer in the world. The story goes that the priests of the temples made a habit out of feeding wild deer, which caused them to occupy the park en masse. Now tourists can feed them crackers and chill with them on the grass.

The prefecture also has some other photo-ops in Japan, especially at Mount Yoshino. The slopes of this mountain are covered with 30,000 cherry blossom trees, making it the most noteworthy sakura cherry blossom viewing spot in the country.

Whether you just stop off for a deer selfie on the way to Osaka, or make a fully-fledged pilgrimage around arguably Japanese history’s most significant prefecture, Nara will reveal itself as one of the most unique and memorable parts of your trip.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What to eat in Nara?

Pickles are a big deal in Japan, and the salty-sweet Nara-zuke variety is one of the oldest, with a history of more than a thousand years. The region is also famous for producing tea, so this is a great place to fulfill your cravings for matcha green tea and wagashi (traditional sweets often made from mochi rice cake).

What are the best things to do in Nara?

Spending an afternoon in Nara City Park is a must-do. Begin with a visit to the pagoda at Kōfuku-ji Temple, then head over to Todaiji to see Lord Buddha, circle around the east through the magical-feeling forest to Kasuga Taisha Shrine, then head down the main road to the museum. Just remember to buy some crackers to bribe the deer along the way!

When to see cherry blossoms in Nara?

Cherry blossom trees bloom at different times depending on the latitude, and for Mt. Yoshino the perfect time is usually early April. By then, the forest will have exploded into sheets of pretty pinks.

What is Nara famous for?

The deer, of course! The 1,500 deer of Nara Park can give even top celebrities around the world a run for their money when it comes to social media exposure; their relatively tame nature and cute bowing make for great photo ops.

What to buy in Nara?

As we mentioned, the people of Nara love their Japanese tea, and they also make the best bamboo tea whisks for traditional matcha brewing in the town of Takayama. If you’re big on calligraphy (or just want to try your hand), in Nara you can get some of the most historic and original brush sets.
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