East Asia, Japan

A Day Trip to Nara from Kyoto: Feeding the Sacred Deer

Nara boasts some of the most impressive shrines and temples and not to mention, the cutest deer that roam freely around the streets. Despite being Japan’s first capital, Nara is often overshadowed by its nearby cities. However, you should not write Nara off, as it makes for a perfect day trip from Kyoto or Osaka.

Getting to Nara from Kyoto

We started our day trip to Nara from Kyoto. The best way to get to Nara is by train. The cheapest way to get there from Kyoto is by taking the JR line rail. From Kyoto station to JR Nara Station, the journey will take around 45 minutes and costs 710 yen. The train station is about a 10-minute walk from the main attractions and park full of deer.

Deer chasing Jake for crackers

Feeding the Deer at Nara-koen Park

Whilst the park its self is pretty and a great place to take in the nature; the main attraction is the 1,200 deer that roam freely around the park. Crazy right! Why so many deer roaming the streets you ask? Well, local belief is that a man named Takemikazuchi (a god) arrived in the former capital on a white deer to protect the city. From then on, the deer have been considered messengers from the gods. Since this legend arose, deer have been thought of as sacred animals and have been carefully protected.

Deer crackers stall

Upon arriving at the park, there are many street vendors selling crackers, specifically for the deer to eat. You can buy a pack of crackers for 150 yen. Although, we must have bought 4 packs as we couldn’t get enough of walking around and feeding the little cuties. The coolest thing about feeding the deer is that if you bow to them, they bow back. Try it!

Temples, Shrines and Parks

After spending a couple of hours lazing in the Park and having fun with the deer, we finally pulled ourselves away and went to explore the surrounding area. Nara is a small place and you can easily see the main attractions on foot. No need to get buses or trains! There are many pretty shrines, temples and gardens to see.

A temple in Nara

The main temple is the ancient Todai-ji temple which dates way back to 1709AD. Inside of the temple, you will find the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue. After visiting a few other temples, we headed to a famous Isui-en Garden. The garden is supposed to be utterly stunning with many flowers in full bloom. However, the cost to enter the garden is 650 yen, so we opted out on this occasion. Instead, we strolled through the beautiful Yoshiki-en Garden which is FREE to enter for tourists.

Pretty garden in Nara

There you have it, a full day out in Nara. What more could you ask for; temples, gardens and cute little deer. We would love to hear of your experience in Nara! Just drop a comment below 😊

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20 thoughts on “A Day Trip to Nara from Kyoto: Feeding the Sacred Deer

  1. I’ve heard so much about Nara – how cute is it that the deer bow back to you when you do the same! I would love to visit someday and experience it for myself 🙂 Glad you had fun!

  2. My husband has always wanted to visit Japan. I did not know tons of deer roam freely in a park in Nara. This is definitely something I’ll show my husband so we can include in our Japan itinerary. They look so cute!

  3. I heard a lot about this deer park. I don’t think I can handle that much cuteness. (Just kidding. I can). Can’t wait to go there, and the garden looks super zen.

  4. That is a lot of deer roaming around the park!! That would be so cool to get near and take pictures though. The only other place I can think of a bit similar is at the Grand Canyon, many deer get close. But this place seems to have way more deer. Hope to visit Kyoto one day and possibly make the day trip to see the deer and shrines!

    1. It was so cool to see all of the deer roaming around. You should definitely make the trip to Nara. It is totally worth the journey there. Hope you enjoy Kyoto, it is a wonderful city with many things to see and do.

  5. Oh, the video look great! I didn’t know Japanese deer will bow when asking for food. What a great manner. Been to Nara many years ago while I was studying in Kyushu. Will be back end of year and your blog has helped me to do the bow when I go. Thanks!

    1. That’s great. To be honest, I can’t even remember how we found this out. I think it may have just happened and we kept doing it and they kept doing it back haha. Glad our posts has helped you, we hope you enjoy your trip!

  6. this is perfect! I’ve only been to Kyoto for a day trip so I didn’t know how to get to the deer park from there until now! thanks for the tips 🙂 looks like you guys had fun!

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