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Nara by Train and Using Your Kintetsu or JR Rail Pass


Nara is a fairly small and compact city. For the most part, if you want to go to places like Nara Park, Todai-ji Temple, Kasuga-taisha Shrine, Naramachi old town and places along the way, the easiest way is by foot or by bicycle.


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For those needing greater convenience, there is the Nara Kotsu Bus Service. You cannot, however, use a JR Pass on Narakotsu. Narakotsu can get you to Todai-ji Temple, Kasuga-taisha Shrine, Heijo Palace Site, and popular places like Horyu-ji Temple and even Asuka Village. It’s worth checking out their Nara Bus Passes to save money.



JR West and Kintetsu Train Services

For getting to Nara and around the Nara basin, there are two train companies. Nara Station is part of JR West and is about 800 m or an 11-minute walk due southwest of Kintetsu Nara Station, or you can take the Nara Loop Bus between the two. There are a number of stations where these two lines interchange. These key stations are Tenri, Sakurai, Oji, and Yoshinoguchi. 


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JR Nara Station



Using Your JR Rail Pass to Get Around Nara by Train

If you’re traveling on a JR Rail Pass which is nationwide, or if you’re just Kansai bound on a Regional JR Pass like the Kansai Area Pass, Kansai WIDE Area Pass or the JR-West All Area Pass, you’ve got Nara in your back pocket. 

Apart from getting you to Nara from Osaka or Kyoto, these JR passes can get you out into exploring more of the Nara countryside. 

These are popular places in Nara accessible with a national or regional JR pass: 



For a number of other popular areas you can use your JR Pass on limited sections of your journey. 


For example, to get to Yoshino you have to go to JR Oji or Takada stations and switch trains to Yoshinoguchi. From Yoshinoguchi you pay around 460 yen for using the Kintetsu Railway service.

Other locations are just a short additional ride. From JR Sakurai, it’s just a few stations on the interchange Kintetsu Line to Hase-dera Temple or Muroguchi-ono for Muro-ji Temple. From Oji, it’s one stop to Shigisanshita where you can catch a bus to Mount Shigi.


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Takada River - JR Wakayama Line



Traveling Around Nara With a Kintetsu Rail Pass

Tourists on a short stay in Kansai and not going to Kobe, Himeji, or as far as Hiroshima, may want to consider a 1-day, 2-day or 5-day Kintetsu Rail Pass. These can get you from Osaka to Nara, Kyoto, Yoshino, Ise Shrine in Mie, Nagoya City and anywhere in between. Like the JR passes, the Kintetsu passes are only for foreign visitors and not foreign residents of Japan. 


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Yoshino River Bridge - Kintetsu Yoshino Line


A Kintetsu pass does not include Limited Express trains, but you can pay extra if you need a fast ride. You can buy a Kintestsu pass online, from KIX or Chubu International Airport, or numerous other locations across Kansai. There’s a small discount for tickets purchased outside of Japan.

A Kintetsu Pass can get you to almost all key attractions in Nara Prefecture including Yoshino, Asuka Village and as far as Iga Ueno in Mie Prefecture. The 1-day pass includes Nara Kotsu buses around Nara city, the 2-day buses around Asuka and Sakurai, and the 5-day Plus bus routes around Toba in Mie. The 5-day pass does not include buses.




How to Get to Naraby Train from Kyoto - JR Pass or Not

Getting from Kyoto to Nara (or Nara to Kyoto) is not the fastest train ride in Kansai. From the central plaza of JR Kyoto Station (not ground level) look for signs to the Kintetsu Railway (south end of the station). You take a train bound for Yamato-Saidaiji and then change there to go just another 2 stops for Kintetsu-Nara.


For Kyoto to JR Nara Station, and including a JR pass, take the Miyakoji Rapid train on the JR Nara Line—it’s the line on the far south end. The train takes around 50 minutes and also stops at the famous sightseeing points of Uji and Tofukuji stations.


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Kiyomizu-dera Temple


How to Get to Nara by Train from Osaka - JR Pass or Not

Since most popular tourist sites are around the Kintetsu Nara station, most people take the train from Kintetsu Osaka-Namba station. From Osaka (Umeda), you need to take the Osaka Loop Line to Tsuruhashi and then change to Kintetsu-Tsuruhashi for Nara.

For the JR Line, and including a JR pass, you need to catch the Yamatoji Rapid Service from Osaka Station departing from platforms 1 and 2. From JR Namba Station, you need to transfer at Kyuhoji Station.


To make the Nara - Kyoto/Osaka journey really something to remember, we highly recommend you consider taking the Aoniyoshi Special Sightseeing Train.




How to Get from Nara to Mount Koya or Koyasan

Mount Koya (Koyasan) in Wakayama Prefecture is a popular destination in Kansai. The most direct route to Koyasan is to take the Kintetsu line from Nara to Osaka-Namba and then walk 10 minutes underground to the Nakai Namba Station. 


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Okunoin, Koyasan


If you want to get to Mount Koya on a JR pass (part way), you take the train to Oji, switch to the JR Wakayama Line and then alight at Hashimoto Station. At Hashimoto, you change to the Nankai Koya Line, but you have to pay for your ticket from this point.



 

Author: NARA Visitor Center & Inn



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