Nara Day Trip from Kyoto

Escape Kyoto for the day with a visit to serene Nara
From US$726 privately
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Tour Details
5.5 hours
Product Type
  • Kofuku-ji
  • Kasuga Shrine
  • Todai-ji
Photos & Highlights
  • Day trip to Nara led by an expert in Japanese history and religion
  • Explore Nara's historic temples and shrines
Tour Description
Just a short train ride from Kyoto lies quaint Naramachi, or Nara, home to Japan's largest bronze Buddha and famous for its wild deer. In this Nara tour, a day trip from Kyoto, we'll join a local guide visiting key temples such as Todai-ji, Kasuga Shrine and Kofuku-ji and learn about the Nara period in Japanese history. Of course, we'll also drop in on the deer, famous for their comfort around humans—we may even walk up and feed a few.

"(Our guide) was an excellent guide. Spending the day with him and his warm personality and passionate knowledge was easily the highlight of our trip (and we had a series of excellent experiences!). He effortlessly answered every question we peppered him with and was just a great guy to spend an afternoon with. We were sad to see him go.

Nara Tour - Cradle of Japanese Culture

Our history lesson might begin at Temple Kofuku-ji, which has two pagodas and four great halls, inside one of which is a gleaming gilded Buddha. Although Kofuku-ji dates back to 669 (when it was built by a woman hoping her husband would recover from illness), the temple was actually built in Kyoto and then moved to Nara in 710. We will visit the Central Golden Hall (also known as ‘Chukondo’) which is the main building of Kofukuji. Originally built in the Tenpyo era, the Central Golden Hall was destroyed by war and fire, and it was rebuilt in 2018.

Kasuga Shrine

We'll also visit Kasuga Shrine (Kasuga-taisha), a Shinto shrine dedicated to protecting the city of Nara (for more on Japan's culture of temples and shrines, try our Synchronized Spirituality Tour). The shrine has thousands of stone lanterns lining its entry path and within are hundreds of bronze lanterns, donated by worshippers. Anyone who has visited Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto will immediately recognize Kasuga shrine’s orange torii gates. 

The Giant Buddha

Our Nara tour wraps up at temple Todai-ji, a Buddhist temple dating back to 750. It's home to the world’s largest Bronze Buddha Vairocana (a celestial Buddha). In Japanese, this Buddha is known simply as “Giant Buddha” (Daibutsu). It’s believed that more than 350,000 people worked on the Great Buddha’s construction. Todai-ji is the last stop on our tour, but we encourage you to have lunch or spend some of the afternoon visiting Nara's other attractions.

Take Aways

After our visit, we will have a better understanding of the importance of this historical city and the relevance of its temples and shrines. (To learn more, read our blog post on How to Tackle Nara).


Where does it meet? Where does it end? 
We meet near Kyoto Station. The tour ends in Nara. You can return to Kyoto after the tour (the guide usually returns after the tour) or stay and get lunch and explore Nara on your own. 
Where You'll Start
27 Reviews (4.91)

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Marc was very knowledgeable and personable. He controlled the time well on our tour as Nara is quite big. Since we were on a schedule, we appreciated that he knew which highlights were the most important, including pointing us to the most important pieces in the museum and giving us their historical significance. We would highly recommend Marc for any tour.
Marc is very knowledgeable with the history and sites of Nara. He also provided us with social perspectives of Japan having lived here for over 20 years. We feel that the information and insights provided were invaluable.
Karin was a delight and an excellent guide