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How To Get To Nara From Osaka And Kyoto

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Learn how to access Nara from Osaka and Kyoto in less than one hour. Find out which trains and transportation to take to efficiently travel to Japan's ancient capital and explore famous historical spots like Todaiji and Horyuji.

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Access to Nara - A UNESCO World Heritage City


photo by Pixta
Nara prefecture is renowned for its historical temples and World Heritage sites such as Todaiji Temple and Horyuji Temple, and traditional Japanese atmosphere.

Taking under one hour for transportation, Nara can be reached easily from Kyoto and Osaka. In general, those in the greater Kansai region can visit Nara easily.

However, there are no direct railroad routes to Nara from Tokyo. Visitors must travel to Kyoto or Osaka, and switch trains from there.

This article is about how to reach Nara from Kyoto and Osaka.

Kintetsu and JR Train Routes

From Osaka and Kyoto, there are two routes to Nara. Using the limited express of Kintetsu Railway (Kintetsu), or using the local trains of JR Nara Line.

The routes start from Osaka Station and Kyoto Station, respectively. Kintetsu Nara Station and JR Nara Station are located separately, and it takes fifteen minutes to walk from one station to the other, so visitors should choose which line to use according to their destinations.

Kintetsu Nara Station: For Kofukuji, Kasuga Taisha and Todaiji

kintetsu nara station

People who wish to visit the deer-filled Nara Park, Todaiji Temple, famous for the huge statue of Buddha, or Kofukuji Temple, well-known for its the five-storied pagoda, should head for Kintetsu Nara Station.

1. From JR Osaka Station

Take the Osaka Loop Line (outer loop) bound for Tennoji. At Tsuruhashi Station, transfer to the Kintetsu Nara Line bound for Kintetsu Nara. The ride takes about an hour, and the fare is 670 yen.

2. From Kintetsu Kyoto Station

The fastest and the most comfortable route is to use the Kintetsu limited express. The ride takes about 35 minutes. All the seats are reserved, so you won't have to stand during the ride. The fare is 1130 yen, so it might be a little expensive, but a reserved seat is worth the price.

Reservations can be made at the Kintetsu official site, or at the JR ticket counter.

Those who wish to save some money should take the Kintetsu Kyoto Line express bound for Kintetsu Nara, which costs 620 yen. The ride takes about 50 minutes, and there are no reserved seats.

If you happen to board a train bound for Kashiharajingu-mae, transfer to a train bound for Kintetsu Nara at Yamato-Saidaiji Station.

A limited express from Kyoto runs twice an hour, while the cheaper express train runs four times an hour.

JR Nara Station: For Horyuji


People who wish to visit Horyuji Temple, the world's oldest wooden architecture, should head for JR Nara Station. There is a large bus terminal at this station, so those who plan to use buses should also use the JR lines.

1. From JR Osaka Station

Access from JR Osaka Station is quite easy. The Osaka Loop Line bound for Nishikujo and Nara will take you directly to JR Nara Station. The ride takes about fifty minutes, and the fare is 800 yen.

2. From JR Kyoto Station

Access from JR Kyoto Station is also simple. The ride on the JR Nara Line Miyakoji rapid train bound for Nara will take about 45 minutes, and the fare is 710 yen.

If you board a local train bound for Nara, the ride will take about an hour, while the fare is the same at 710 yen.

Kintetsu Sakurai Station: For Omiwa Jinja, Hasedera and Mt. Miwa

kintetsu samurai station

Picture from Omiwa Jinja: A Shrine That Worhips Mt. Miwa, Where The Deity Resides

Those who wish to visit Omiwa Jinja, one of the oldest shrines in Japan, Hasedera Temple, where visitors can enjoy flowers throughout the year, or Mt. Miwa, where the deities of Omiwa Jinja reside, should head for Sakurai Station of the Kintetsu Line.

1. From JR Osaka Station

You will need to make one transfer during this route. Take the Osaka Loop Line bound for Kyobashi and Tsuruhashi. At Tsuruhashi Station, transfer to the Kintetsu Osaka Line bound for Aoyamacho. The ride takes about an hour, and the fare is 800 yen.

2. From Kintetsu Kyoto Station

Take the Kintetsu Kyoto Line express bound for Kashiharajingu-mae, and transfer to the Kintetsu Osaka Line bound for Yamato-Asakura at Yamato-Yagi Station. The ride takes about 70 minutes, and the fare is 940 yen.

Kintetsu Yoshino Station: For Mt. Yoshino


To visit Mt. Yoshino, which is famous for cherry blossoms, you must head for Kintetsu Yoshino Station. From there, walk to the Senbon-guchi Station, and the cable car will take you to Yoshinoyama-guchi Station, located at Mt. Yoshino.

Please note that the cable car is currently out of service due to a malfunction in the system, and scheduled to resume operations in the summer of 2019. So walk along the Nanamagari-zaka hiking trail, which offers a great view. It will take about twenty minutes to the Shimo-Senbon area.

For details, please take a look at this page. (Japanese link, English translation available.)

1. From JR Osaka Station

The access to Kintetsu Yoshino Station is a little complicated. Take the Yamatoji rapid train bound for Nishikujo and Tennoji. Get off at Tennoji Station, walk for ten minutes to Osaka-Abenobashi Station. From there, board the Kintetsu Minami Osaka Line/Yoshino Line limited express bound for Yoshino.

The ride takes about an hour and 40 minutes, and the fare is 1,670 yen. The limited express ticket can be purchased a month in advance at various travel agencies, Kintetsu stations, or the Kintetsu official site.

2. From Kintetsu Kyoto Station

Take the Kintetsu limited express bound for Kashiharajingu-mae. At Kashiharajingu-mae Station, transfer to the Kintetsu limited express bound for Yoshino. The ride takes about an hour and 40 minutes and the fare is 2550 yen.

There are other routes to Yoshino, but they are complicated and take time, so we recommend using the limited express.

Using a Taxi

taxi to nara

If you prefer a direct route, or have luggage, using a taxi might be easier. It takes about an hour and a half to reach Nara City from both Osaka and Kyoto, respectively, and the fare is approximately 13,000 yen.

Many people have visited Osaka and Kyoto, but it might be fun to extend your trip to Nara as well.

Activities in Nara

Have you already planned what you're doing in Nara? Consider adding the following activities and tours to make your time in Nara the best it can be:

For example, this tea ceremony experience provides an authentic and enjoyable way to try matcha and learn about a traditional tea ceremony. For those looking to explore, this guided walking tour will provide participants with an in-depth understanding of spiritually important temples, shrines, and areas in Nara. Lastly, those looking to try traditional Japanese food can join a sushi-making class to learn firsthand how to create delicious, commonly-enjoyed sushi in Nara.

*This article is a revised 2019 version of the original, published on May 30th, 2016.

Written by

The MATCHA editorial department. Our articles feature useful travel information for visitors to Japan, from how-to guides to recommended places to visit.

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