questions & answers: itinerary check

nara including todaiji temple, deer park and kasuga shrine

Nara including Todaiji Temple, Deer Park and Kasuga Shrine

We have two kids (9 and 11) and will buy 1st Class JR Passes. How difficult or easy will it be for us to go to Nara including Todaiji Temple, Deer Park and Kasuga Shrine? Will there by any entrance fee(s)?

We do not speak Japanese.

We were thinking of using this tour http://www.viator.com/tours/Kyoto/Nara-Afternoon-Tour-of-Todaiji-Temple-Deer-Park-and-Kasuga-Shrine-from-Kyoto/d332-2142KYO_N310/TR

eDude
eDude

Hi,
It is extremely easy and a tour is not needed at all - you can save yourself a couple of hundred bucks doing it yourself, and go where you want, when you want, and for how long you want. The Deer in Nara Park and Kasuga Shrine have no fee - but if you want to feed the deer, about 10 crackers are 150 yen. Most of the deer are close to Todaiji, but you can see them all over. Adult entrance fee for Todaiji is 500 yen (presumably children are ½ price).

You can walk to the park from JR Nara Station very easily - just exit the station, go left, turn right at the first big street you see and keep walking about 15-20 minutes. Besides, looking at the link you give, it seems like they are ignoring a few gems right there in the vicinity - Kofukuji Temple is one of Nara's best sights, plus there are 2 traditional Japanese gardens close by - Isuien and Yoshikien - nearly unknown to the tourist hordes and not crowded at all.

Knowing Japanese can help a lot, but it is one of Japan's biggest tourist draws, and speaking English is perfectly fine. The Japanese are quite accommodating.

This site has a lot of useful info for you:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4103.html

Toraneko
Toraneko

I am sold!

eDude
eDude

How long will it take for us to get from Shinagawa Station in Tokyo to the Nara Deer Park? What is the earliest JR train? We were thinking of going to the Tokyo Imperial Palace on the same day and spend as much time as we can in Tokyo before heading on JR train to Osaka. When will be the last JR train to Osaka that night? Thanks.

eDude
eDude

You can see regular fares, routes and schedules on Hyperdia. But be sure under "More Options" to deselect "Nozomi..." since you can't ride that on the Pass.

The best site by far is the Todaiji Great Buddha and is a must see place. Yoshikien is currently free for foreign passport holders on tourist visas or landing permits. You can see the sights in Nara Park is half a day if you don't linger too much.

Kyoto is the jewel of the country though, and worth a lot of your attention. Even Kyoto Station is worth exploring, and it is just a train station. After the temples of Kyoto or Nara close down around 5 PM, you can zip over to Osaka for the evening. At night the city comes alive and has some great places to see, such as Dotonbori, plus the night views from the Umeda Sky Bldg, and Abeno Harukas Bldg are wonderful.

In addition, there are other numerous great places you can visit in the area. Okayama is not far and it is famous for its castle, plus Korakuen Garden, one of Japan's Top 3, and also the Handayama Garden. If you'd like to get off the beaten trail for a while, the half day hike up to Konpirasan in Kotohira is stunning. Going to Takamatsu is also nice - it has one of Japan's finest gardens also, called Ritsurin.
Hiroshima also has a number of good places. Miyajima is the most famous, and aside from Hiroshima itself, Onomichi with its temple tour and Kosanji Temple is spectacular. Just beyond Miyajima also lies Iwakuni with its historical bridge and castle on top of the mountain. Taikodani is also a beautiful shrine in Tsuwano, Shimane. Hagi Castle was actually delightful, and the preserved samurai district and Mori Clan related temples a rarity. One of the very best is the Akiyoshi Limestone Cave, a 300 million year old wonder with huge caverns and underground river running through it.

All in all, a lot more to explore and enjoy.

Toraneko
Toraneko

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