One day will allow you to see the vast majority of everything Nara has to offer (which is plenty). You can begin and end your journey in either Kyoto or Osaka (1 hour by train one way). Be sure to read my post about things to do in Kyoto and Osaka. Nara is packed with a few of Japan’s most important sights, including the famous Daibu
tsu (Great Buddha) at Todai-ji Temple, Kasuga-Taisha Shrine, and Nara-koen Park, with its famous bowing deer.
Todai-ji Temple, one of Japan’s most historically significant temples was constructed in 752 . At the time, Todai-ji was the head of all Buddhist temples in Japan, and became so influential that the capital was moved from Nara to Nagaoka in 784 to lessen the temple’s influence on the government. The main hall of Todaiji’s sits the Daibutsuden (Big Buddha Hall). The massive building, which is the world’s largest wooden building, houses one of Japan’s largest statues of Buddha (Daibutsu) standing 15 meters tall.
Nara Park is home to over 1200 freely roaming deer which in Shinto are considered to be messengers of the gods. The deer have been designated as a natural treasure. The deer are calm, and some deer have learned to bow to visitors. Although, the deer can be aggressive if they think you will feed them. Deer crackers are for sale around the park, and some deer have learned to bow to visitors to ask to be fed.
How to get to Nara from Kyoto?
JR Nara Line: 690 Yen (7 USD), 45 minutes by express (kaisoku), 70 minutes by local (futsu), departs from JR Kyoto Station in Kyoto and arrives at JR Nara Station in Nara
Kintetsu Nara Line: 1110 Yen (11 USD), 35 minutes by express (tokkyu), departs from Kintetsu Kyoto Station (on the south side of JR Kyoto Station) in Kyoto and arrives at Kintetsu Nara Station in Nara
How to get to Nara from Osaka?
JR Kanjo-Yamatoji Lines: Y780, 50 minutes by Yamatoji Kaisoku (express), departs from JR Osaka Station and arrives at JR Nara Station
Kintetsu Nara Line: Y540, 40 minutes, departs from Kintetsu Namba Station in Osaka and arrives at Kintetsu Nara Station in Nara