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10 Best Things To Do In Nara, Japan

What are some of the best things to do in Nara, Japan?

After all, If you are planning a trip to Japan, then one place you definitely have to go visit is Nara.

Unlike other cities which are more technology heavy and filled with glittering neon signs and lights, the city of Nara is different. It gives off a precious yet old historic vibe that is unlike anything else in Japan.

Located just a short train ride away from Kyoto, you’ll find a bundle of things to see and do.

Because this city was once the former capital of Japan back in the 700 AD period, there are all sorts of temples, shrines and museums that depict the ancient history of this city.

It is definitely a place you wouldn’t want to miss.

In this post, i’ll be highlighting the 10 best things you should go see and do if you decide to visit Nara.

10 Things To Do In Nara, Japan

In no particular order, here are the best things to do in Nara, Japan.

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park

This is probably the most iconic and famous part about the city of Nara.

It is here where you will be able to find a deer park that is filled with hundreds of deer. These deer are wild but they are also tamed as well. The best part about them is that they actually love humans as they have learned the method to bow their heads whenever a human is close to them.

You can come here and feed some deer, pet the deer, take pictures with them etc. Feeding the deer is actually pretty cheap as there are countless stalls all around that sell bags of cookies for like a dollar.

However I should warn you, if you decide to feed the deer, you will immediately be swarmed by a lot more deer once they see you are feeding them. This can get pretty scary as they will all try to come at you at once hoping you will feed them.



Todai-Ji is probaby the most famous attraction aside from the deer in the city of Nara. It was founded back in the 700 AD period by Emperor Shomu. It is known for having a giant bronze Buddha statue, and is one of the largest Buddhas in the world. Not only that, but the temple itself is amazing because this entire temple was built with only wood. There is no nails used at all in this building.

Although throughout the years, the building has suffered some damage many times, it has constantly been restored.

This temple is also listed as a UNEWSCO World Heritage Site.

Kasuga Shrine

Kasuga Shrine

The Kasuga Shrine is one of Japan’s oldest Shinto shrines and is a must visit if you ever get a chance to go to Nara. It is also designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Once you get there, you will immediately notice many lanterns being hung in a line which leads up to the main building. It is said that there are over 2,000 stone lanterns as well as 1,000 hanging bronze lanterns in total.

Aside from the shrine itself, if you want to pay an extra fee, then you’ll also be able to look at many ancient items like swords and costumes inside the treasure house.

Kofukuji Temple

Kofukuji Temple

Kofukuji Temple is another place in Nara that was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It features a beautiful 5 story pagoda that is widely used in publications to showcase the city of Nara. It is a famous symbol of the city and one of the most popular buildings in all of Japan.

The temple was originally located in Kyoto, but was moved to its now current location in Nara park. In the past, there were tons of buildings inside the temple, but not many of them lasted through time.

Aside from the temple, you can also visit the temple’s treasure house in where you are able to see many ancient statues that date back all the way to the 8th century.

Horyuji Temple

Horyuji Temple

The Horyuki Temple is considered to be Japan’s oldest Buddhist temple dating back to the 5th-6th century. Not only that, but many of the buildings inside the temple are also considered to be the world’s oldest wooden structures.

It is here where you’ll find different types of buildings like a 5 story pagoda or an original wooden kondo that is more than 1,300 years old.

The temple is also credited to being the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Japan.

Yakushiji Temple

Yakushiji Temple

Yakushiji Temple is a temple built to honor the “Buddha of Medicine”. Originally built in another location back in the 6th century, it was relocated to its current spot after Nara was named the capital of Japan.

The temple is known for its many assortment of beautiful Buddhist artworks and bronze Buddist sculptures. It also boasts a beautiful painting of Kichijoten from the 8th century. There are also buildings inside the temple that date back to the 8th century.

Definitely a neat little place to visit.

Manyo Botanical Garden

 Manyo Botanical Garden

If you are wanting to get away from all the old traditional things, then you may want to head to Manyo Botanical Garden.

This garden features hundreds of native plants as well as being surrounded by many beautiful trees and plants. It makes for a perfect place to roam around and unwind as you stroll around the beautiful garden.

Plus, during the April and May season, many locals from all over Japan come here to watch the wisteria in full bloom.

Nara National Museum

Nara National Museum

The National Museum of Nara is a pretty awesome museum to go to. It houses many antique Japanese Buddhist artworks, paintings, scrolls as well as many items from centuries long ago.

The best part about this museum is the Shosoin Treasure House. This house is unique because it is home to over 9,000 pieces of 8th century “Silk Road” items. You can find things like musical instruments from China, bowls from Persia, rhino horn cups from India, and much more items from around the world.

Do know that the Shosoin exhibition usually only runs for a few weeks from the October to November range.

Higashimuki Shopping District

Higashimuki Shopping District

As you know, it wouldn’t be Japan without a little bit of fun shopping around. Every town and city has their own type of shopping area, with Nara being no exception.

If you are wanting to get some cute souvenirs or buy some delicious foods to eat, then you should definitely check out Higashimuki Shopping District.

Heijo Palace

Heijo Palace

Before the capital of Japan was moved from Nara to Kyoto, this palace was home to the emperor.

The palace has been basically turned into a museum where it has a variety of exhibits on display. Many of which includes how the emperor operated back in the day, like his residential quarters, bureaucratic offices, and Daigoku-Den hall for national ceremonies as well as many other things.

Visitors are also welcome to try on old costumes while you are there.

Aside from that, another thing that makes this place special is that there is a life size replica of the diplomatic shop that carried Japanese nobles to China back in the 8th century.


Nara is one of the most popular places to visit in Japan.

As you can see from this list, even though it doesn’t have as much things going on around it as other cities, the things it does have are unique and historical.

It is a great place to see how Japan was like back in the older days as well as getting a feel of its culture.

Also, if you are planning to visit Japan anytime soon, you might be interested in some of my other Japan posts.

Or you can check out my complete list of things to do in Japan by clicking here.

Let me know how your trip goes!

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