Nara Discovery, full day

Nara, the venerable provincial city

The opinion of Japan Experience

Nara will suit any traveller who is keen on traditional Japanese culture and enjoys tranquility and historic sights. 

Your Travel Angel's plus

Although at heart a huge fan of Osaka, our Travel Angel Yann sometimes needs to take a breather and unwind, and it's to Nara, the city his wife comes from, that he goes to seek a more provincial and peaceful Japan. Beyond Nara's venerable history and monuments, he will be able to help you explore the charms of this magnificent city that he knows so well.


Japan possesses an incredible wealth of culture, and visitors very often find themselves facing difficult choices about how to organise their trip and where to base themselves. Most visitors to the Kansai area are more likely to stay in Kyoto or perhaps in Osaka, and Nara is a short train journey away and can be visited, very conveniently, as a day trip. But what has Nara got to offer that other cities don't have?

Nara may have 350,000 inhabitants, but it has a countryside atmosphere. Rather like Kyoto, it is squeezed in by the surrounding hills, although in Nara the views stretch further as there are no huge buildings blocking it, and the impression of spaciousness is confirmed with every successive step. The famous Nara Park is the centrepoint, thinning out the crowds who come in impressive numbers every year to admire the city's thousand-year old treasures. Vast plains spread from the foot of Mount Wakakusa, from the top of which, after a short climb, a panorama of the city can be seen.

On the outskirts of the park, you can find the coolness of foliage and the full range of Japan's tree species: maples, cherry trees, mossy cedars, cypress trees, camphorwoods... Without forgetting perhaps the most impressive wisteria plants that you have ever seen. To perfect this wild and bucolic scene, fallow deer roam freely on the grass and among the copses; they delight visitors by pushing their wet noses into the hands of people who they sense have bought some of the food they love from huts spread throughout the park.

But for Japanese people, the fallow deer are first and foremost messengers from the gods who live deep in the forests and they remind us that Japan was first born here, in Nara. It was here that Shintoism and Buddhism came together to forge the Japanese soul when, for the first time, an emperor recognised the power of the sutras, mysterious texts that came from across the sea and suddenly provided a vision of the world after death. It was also in Nara that an empress broke with tradition, deciding to establish a lasting capital there.

The signs of these ancient times are still tangible today: Todai-ji, of course and Kofuku-ji, but also the long pathway bordered with stone lanterns which leads to Kasuga-taisha shrine. Those who wish to go even further back in time can ask their guide to take them to see Horyu-ji, the oldest known wooden construction in the world.

At the end of the day, let yourself be guided through the alleyways of Naramachi where the alignment of the traditional "machiya" houses will plunge you into old-time Japan with its centuries-old shops that offer a whole range of local specialities to the delight of young and old alike.


Your guide will send you an e-mail to set up a meeting point.
There is an additional charge for every extra person in groups of more than 4 people. Full price will also apply to children.