How to access to Nara by Japan Rail Pass. If you don’t use JR Pass, Kintetsu Railway is more convenient.

Todaiji is one of the popular spot in Nara. ©Nara Prefecture/©JNTO

Nara is former capital city in Japan and it is older than Kyoto. Some of shrines, temples and districts are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. When you travel in Kansai area, you may think about trip to Nara or stay in Nara. If you go to Osaka or Kyoto from other cities, such as Tokyo, you can get on Shikansen. It is easy and very accessible. How about Nara? It is not very accessible as much as Kyoto or Osaka. But it is easy. Especially if you use Japan Rail Pass, JR West Kansai Area Pass and Kansai WIDE Area Pass, you can access to Nara by JR lines without any extra charge. And Kintesu Railway (private railway company) connects Osaka/Kyoto with Nara too.

In this post, I would like to share the information about access to Nara by train.

Overview of access to Nara


View How to access to Nara in a larger map

Usually Osaka and Kyoto are the places to access to Nara. Please see the map above. There are JR lines and Kintetsu railway lines among three cities. JR Yamatoji Rapid train that is shown by dark blue line runs between Osaka/Tennoji and Nara. JR Miyakoji Rapid train that is shown by dark green line on the map runs between Kyoto and Nara. And Kintesu Nara and Kyoto lines that are shown by dark red line on the map run between Kyoto/Osaka and Nara. Japan Rail Pass and other JR rail passes user can use both JR lines, Yamatoji and Miyakoji, with no extra charge.

Kintetsu is not covered by any kinds of JR rail passes. But some of you purchase single ticket or use Kansai Thru Pass. Kintetsu is the biggest private railway company in Japan.

I will explain each ways one by one.

Access to Nara from Osaka by Yamatoji Rapid Service

Yamatoji Rapid Service by 221 series
Yamatoji Rapid Service by 221 series

If you want to acess to Nara from Osaka by Japan Rail Pass without any extra charge, you should get on this train. Yamatoji Rapid is operated between Tennoji and Nara. This rapid train goes on Osaka Kanjo line (loop line) from Tennoji to Tsuruhashi, Kyobashi, Osaka, Nishikujo, Bentencho and come back to Tennoji again. And then this rapid train goes to Nara. So you can catch this train Osaka (Umeda area) and most of major stations on Osaka Kanjo line. This train is operated very frequently. Mostly it comes every 15 minutes. Please see the details about this train at the post, Access to Nara from Osaka by Japan Railway, Yamatoji Rapid Service.

Access to nara from Kyoto by Miyakoji Rapid Service

JR operates rapid train between Kyoto and Nara as well. This is called Miyakoji Rapid and this train is completely covered by Japan Rail Pass. It is operated every 30 minutes in daytime. Please see the post, Access to Nara from Kyoto by Japan Railways, Miyakoji Rapid Service to get the details.

Kintetsu Railway Nara line and Kyoto line

Kintetsu Railway is the biggest private rail company. The trains are operated among Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Yoshino, Ise and Nagoya.

Actually Kintesu is much more popular to get Nara for local tourists because of fare, frequency and location of Nara station. I compare JR fares and Kintetsu fares on each lines below. I also talk about the location later.

As long as you use Japan Rail Pass or other JR rail passes, Kintetsu is not your choice because it is not covered by the pass. But if you don’t have any plan to use JR rail passes and pay single fare, Kintetsu will be your choice. And also if you use Kansai Thru Pass, Kintesu trains is fully covered by Kansai Thru Pass. There are two lines that depart from Osaka or Kyoto to Nara.

Nara line between Osaka and Nara

In Osaka, Kintetsu has three terminal stations, Osaka-Namba, Osaka-Uehonmachi and Tsuruhashi.

As probably you know, Namba is one of the biggest downtown core in Osaka. Some of you stay in Namba area. JR has JR Namba station too. But you need to transfer to Yamatoji Rapid Service at Shin-Imamiya or Tennoji. So Kintesu takes you to Nara directly.

Osaka-Uehonmachi is located at same location as Osaka Subway Tanimachi line Tanimachi-Kyuchome station. You can transfer easily there. And you can transfer easily from JR Osaka Kanjo line (loop line) at Tsuruhashi. Let’s check fares and travel times.

Osaka-Namba or Osaka-Uehonmachi -> Nara : Travel time about 40 minutes (by Rapid Express), fare 540 yen
*If you take JR trains, fare is exactly same and travel time is almost same. But there are direct train to Nara during peak hours only. Otherwise you need to transfer either Shin-Imamiya or Tennoji.

Osaka-Uehonmachi -> Nara : Travel time about 35 minutes (by Rapid Express), fare 480 yen
If you take JR trains, fare is 690 yen and need to transfer at Tennoji. Travel time is 5-10 minutes longer than Kintetsu.

As you see, Kintetsu is much easier to get Nara than JR trains. But if you travel to Nara from Umeda area, you need to go to Namba or Tsuruhashi if you want to take Kintetsu. JR Yamatoji Rapid Service give you direct transfer. Please make sure where you will be in Osaka before choose Kintetsu or JR.

Limited Express are not operated very often between Osaka and Nara. But there are operated every 30 minutes between Kyoto and Nara. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

By the way, Rapid Express is the fastest train except Limited Express in all Kintetsu trains. Limited Express is faster but you need to pay surcharge, another 500 yen. Limited Express is not much faster than Rapid Express. Travel time is mostly 5 minutes shorter than Rapid Express. But accommodation is much different. Rapid Express is a commute train. Limited Express is same type of accommodation as JR Limited Express trains. And also there are many other kinds of trains on Kintetsu line, such as Express, Semi-Express, Local. Some of the commute trains do not go to Nara directly. You need to transfer at Yamato-Saidaiji station where is two stations before Nara.

Hanshin Railway and Kintetsu Nara line

Many Hanshin Railway trains go through Kintetsu Nara line from Kobe and Amagasaki.

Hanshin Railway is other private railway company and it connects Umeda/Namba with Kobe (Sannomiya). Hanshin and Kintetsu go through trains each other. Rapid Express runs between Sannomiya and Nara directly. It is operated every 20 minutes during daytime and travel time is 75-80 minutes. The fare is 940 yen. This is only direct service between Kobe and Nara. Any JR trains do not connect Kobe with Nara directly. You have to transfer at JR Osaka station.

Kyoto line between Kyoto and Nara

Interior of limited express trains. All seats are reserved at 500 yen surcharge. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Kintetsu Kyoto station is exactly same location as JR Kyoto station. You don’t need to think about departure station. Just compare travel time and fare.

Kyoto -> Nara : Travel time about 50 minutes (by Express), fare is 610 yen.
*If you take JR trains, fare is 690 yen and travel time is 45 minutes.

JR trains are faster. But if you don’t care about surcharge 500 yen, you can take Kintetsu Limited Express. This is the fastest train and it takes about 30 minutes. Some of the trains do not go to Nara directly. You need to transfer at Yamato-Saidaiji station where is two stations before Nara.

Kyoto Subway Karasuma line and Kintetsu Kyoto line
Some of the trains go through Kyoto Subway Karasuma line as well. Please check Kyoto City Transportation Subway map. Green line on the map is Karasuma line. If you stay in Kyoto along this subway line, you may be able to catch the train to Kintetsu Kyoto line.

The locations of JR Nara station and Kintetsu Nara station

This is one of reason why Kintesu is more popular than JR. Please see the map below.


View Nara station in a larger map

Kintesu Nara station is just step away from Kofukuji temple. Nara Park, Daibutsu (big statues of Buddha) and Kasuga Taisha shrine are within walking distance.

JR Nara station is about 1km away from Kintetsu Nara station. Most of spots are still within walking distance. If you take Sanjo Dori (三条通/dark brown line on the map above), there are lots of shops along the street. You can enjoy 1km walk from the station to Sarusawa pond and Kofukuji temple. It is the easiest way to get there too. Check the movie below about Sanjo Dori street.

156 thoughts on “How to access to Nara by Japan Rail Pass. If you don’t use JR Pass, Kintetsu Railway is more convenient.”

  1. Hi Takeshi-San,

    I am going to Osaka/Kyoto in May and i hope you could help me in choosing what passes i should get for the trip. Thank you Sooooo much in advance!
    My 11 days itinerary are:

    Day 1 evening, 1800 arrive in Kansai Airport. Lodging at Nagahoribashi.
    Day 2: Osaka Castle, Shitennoji Temple and Shinsekai.
    Day 3 :Probably around namba area, dontonbori, shinseibashi.
    Day 4: Mount Koya day trip and back to osaka
    Day 5: Universal Studio Japan
    Day 6: Check out and stay in Kyoto (Shijo Horikawa area)
    Day 7: Kyoto Arashiyama, Tenryuji Temple, Kinkaku Temple and probably Ginkaku Temple.
    Day 8: Kiyomizu-dera, fushima-Inari
    Day 9: Shopping around Downtown Kyoto
    Day 10 : Day Trip to Nara
    Day 11 : Check out and to Kansai Airport

  2. HI! Could you please tell me which is the best pass in terms of time and money saving if my itinerary is the following:

    day one: Narita airport to kyoto

    day two: Kyoto to nara for the day

    day 6 Kyoto to Tokyo

    day 7 tokyo to Kamakura

    day 8 Tokyo to Mount Fouji

    I’ll be 4 more days travelling around Tokyo (metro) and I also have to return to the airport to catch my flight back home. If I plan to concentrate all my longer rides on the first seven days, is it still convenient to buy a 14 day pass (taking into account that I would like to go to Mt fuji on day 8, that I have to traver around tokio on the rest of the days and that I need to get back to the airport? ) or buying a 7 day one would be just fine?

    Thank you!!

    maria jose

  3. Hi, could you please advise me on the best pass to get:

    Fly into Nagoya, then to Kyoto, then to Nara, and back to Nagoya for departure.

    What is the best rail pass for me to get that will also save me money?

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Kintetsu rail pass is most affordable choice.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/kintetsu-rail-pass-most-affordable-deal-for-osakakyoto-nagoya-and-access-to-ise.html

      But this pass does not cover airport to Nagoya station. And you cannot get Kyoto directly from Nagoya. You have to change trains at least once even if you add limited express surcharge. You can find all info in the link above.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hello Takeshi san,

    may you help me to to choice the best pass that I can used for my itinerary below:

    day 1, osaka – nara, we plan to stay near osaka station
    day 2 osaka -Takayama
    day 3 universal studio osaka, dontoburi and osaka aquarium
    day 4, osaka-kyoto
    day 5, osaka-tokyo
    day 6, tokyo-yokohama
    day 7, tokyo-hakone
    day 8, tokyo disney sea
    day 9, prepared for going back

    Sincerely
    Tina

    1. Hi Tina san,

      You may use JR pass 7 days for the first 7 days. JR Pass does not cover whole part of your trip in this 7 days because it does not cover subway, city bus and other non JR transportation. Please see the link below to find more info:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/japan-rail-pass-user-guide-how-to-use-jr-pass-to-its-maximum.html

      Single ticket is okay for day 8. If you leave from Haneda or Narita, you can find some info in the links below:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/haneda/how-to-access-from-haneda-airport-to-downtown-tokyo.html
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/narita/the-list-of-deals-for-access-to-downtown-tokyo-from-narita-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hello Takeshi,

    Can you help me identify which train pass should i get for below itinerary? Also, do you have any travel information on Sapporo? I’ll include our itinerary as well just in case you can help us.

    Day 1 Jan 24, 2018 Wednesday
    Osaka Castle Tour
    Namba, Shinsaibashi, Dohtonbori
    Day 2 Jan 25, 2018 Thursday
    Universal Studios Japan
    Day 3 Jan 26, 2018 Friday
    Kyoto Tour
    Fushimi Inari Shrine
    Tofukuji Temple
    Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
    Gion Street
    Day 7 Jan 30, 2018 Tuesday
    Nara Deer Park
    Todaiji Temple
    Kofukuji Temple
    Gangoji Temple
    Nara Museum
    Kasuga Taisha Shrine

    Day 4 Jan 27, 2018 Saturday Sapporo
    Odori Park
    Sapporo TV Tower
    Susukino
    Sapporo Beer Museum
    Clock Tower
    Day 5 Jan 28, 2018 Sunday Sapporo
    Moerenuma Park
    Mt. Moiwa
    Day 6 Jan 29, 2018 Monday Sapporo
    Takino Suzuran Hillside Park
    Otaru Canal
    Tanukikoji

    Thank you so much in advance!

    Joyce

    1. Hi Joyce,

      How do you get Sapporo from Osaka? If you intend to take a train, JR pass is your choice.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/japan-rail-pass-user-guide-how-to-use-jr-pass-to-its-maximum.html

      But the trip to Sapporo from Osaka by train is very very long trip. Please see the link below to find the info:
      https://jprail.com/destinations/hokkaido-area/how-to-get-sapporo.html

      There is no overnight train available. You have to spend one whole day for just moving.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hello Takeshi,

        We wil board ANA airlines going to Sapporo. This will be our 7 days itinerary and we need your expertise on what train passes should we get to fully maximize our travel.

        Day 1 Osaka
        Osaka Castle Tour
        Shinsaibashi, Dohtonbori

        Day 2 Osaka
        Universal Studios Japan

        Day 3 Kyoto
        Fushimi Inari Shrine
        Tofukuji Temple
        Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

        Day 4 Sapporo
        Odori Park
        Sapporo TV Tower
        Susukino
        Sapporo Beer Museum
        Clock Tower

        Day 5 Sapporo
        Moerenuma Park
        Mt. Moiwa

        Day 6
        Takino Suzuran Hillside Park
        Otaru Canal
        Tanukikoji

        Day 7
        Nara Deer Park
        Todaiji Temple

        Thank you so much for accommodating my inquiries 🙂

  6. Hello Takeshi San, we will be stopping over at Nara for a day trip from Kyoto and using the JR 7 day pass. Can we use the pass to go to Nara-koen Park, Isuien Garden, Todaiji Temple, Kasuga-taisha shrine and Kofuku Ji Temple? And is this possible to do in one day? Please let me know, thank you!

  7. Hello Takeshi san,

    I am confused of the rail passes that are available and I hope you can give me some suggestions as to what passes should I get :-
    Day 1 : Kansai Airport to Shin-Osaka (3 days) [Yodogawa-ku]
    Dotonbori, Kuromon Ichiba Market, Tsutenkaku
    Day 2 : Osaka Castle, Shitennoji Temple, Umeda Sky Building Floating Garden, Hep Five Ferris Wheel,
    Day 3 : Himeji Castle, Kobe, Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine
    Day 4 : Osaka to Kyoto (3 days) [Higashiiru,Shijyo-Dori]
    Nijojo and Imperial Castle, Potoncho
    Day 5 : Fushimi Inari Shrine, Byodin Temple, Tenryuji Temple, Arashiyama Bamboo Groves
    Day 6 : Nishiki Fish Market, Kiyomizudera Temple, Ginkakuji Temple, Gion
    Day 7 : Kyoto to Tokyo (2 days) [Asakusa-bashi, Taito-ku]
    Meji Shrine, Shibuya, Sensoji Temple, Ginza
    Day 8 : Tsukji Fish Market, Kamakura Kotoku-in, Hase-Dera Temple, Akihabara
    Day 9 : Tokyo to Hakone (1 day) [Sengokuhara, Hakonemachi]
    Owakudani, Hakone Shrine, Lake Ashi, Gotemba Premium Outet
    Day 10 : Hakone to Tokyo (1 day) [Asakusa-bashi, Taito-ku]
    Free and easy- Ameyoko
    Day 11 : Tokyo to Sapporo (thinking of flying) (5 days) [Chuo-ku]
    Odori Park, Susukino, Otaru, Lake Toya
    Looking forward for your advise and hope to hear from you soon 🙂
    Warmest regards
    Siew

    1. Hi Siew san,

      Basically you can follow my sample in the link below:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7days/basic-itinerary-of-osaka-kyoto-and-tokyo-in-7-days.html

      And you can add Kansai area pass one day for trip to Himeji on day 3 and Hakone free pass 2 days for day 9 and 10 on top of the sample in the link above.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-use-jr-west-kansai-area-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html
      http://www.odakyu.jp/english/deels/freepass/hakone/

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Hello Takeshi san,

    A very good day to you. I will be travel to Japan west for 9 days and kinda confuse with transportation and need your kind advise. These are my itineraries:

    Day 1 Kansai airport to Kyoto – shall i buy Icoca+ Haruka tickets – 1 way or 2 way? or Shall i buy JR West Pass for 4 days?
    Day 4 Kyoto to Tennoji –
    Day 5 Tennoji to Nara + Kobe
    Day 6Tennoji to Namba
    Day 7 Tennoji to Osaka
    Day 9 Tennoji to Kansai airport

    Basically i will stay Kyoto for 3 nights and explore Osaka, Nara, Kobe from Tennoji…Not sure i shall take JR-West Kansai Rail Pass (4 days) or I just take Icoca + Haruka ticket or Osaka Amazing pass or Kansai thru pass..

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Thank you so much!
    Cai

    1. Hi Cai san,

      I recommend you to use ICOCA and Haruka one way for day 1. You may add Kansai one pass instead of ICOCA. Kansai one pass is same type card as ICOCA but it designed for foreign tourist. It offers the discount at many attractions:
      https://kansaionepass.com/en/about.html?info=1

      Use Kansai one pass when you take train and subway in Kyoto. You can use it for taking city bus too but city bus pass is sold at 500 yen for one day. You can get the worth by only 3 rides. It’s much better than using Kansai one pass.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      Use Kansai one pass for Kyoto to Tennoji too. But if you want to take Haruka from Kyoto to Tennoji, Haruka discount ticket for Kyoto to Tennoji is cheaper than using single ticket or Kansai one pass. If you take JR train after arrival Tennoji, you can use Kansai area pass.

      Kansai area pass is also your choice for day 5. So you may use 2 days Kansai area pass for day 4 and 5.

      In Osaka, you can choose the deal in the link below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html

      At last, you can use Haruka discount ticket again on the last day if you want to take Haruka. Don’t buy round trip ICOCA and Haruka to Kyoto. Purchase separately and get better deal.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. Hello Takeshi san,
    Due to Japan railway and buses are many lines, it makes me difficult to choose what kinds of pass is more economical for our trip in Japan , can you give any suggestions? The followings is our itinerary:
    Day 1: Kansai Airport to Osaka, Shinsaibashi Station, Osaka Castle and Dotonbori
    Day 2: Universal studio
    Day 3: Osaka – Kyoto (Uji)
    Day 4: Kyoto to Nagoya
    Day 5: Nagoya – Gotemba station
    Day 6: Gotemba – Mt Fuji (day trip)
    Day 7: Mt Fuji – Tokyo station /Shinjuku station
    Day 8: Tokyo Area
    Day 9: Shinjuku Station – Haneda Airport
    Sincerely
    Nelly

    1. Hi Nelly san,

      You need to purchase a regular ticket for city to city transfer.

      For KIX to Osaka, Yokoso Osaka ticket is most recommended:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      Single ticket is your choice for day 2 to 7. There is no deals available which is cheaper than single ticket. But if you intend to visit Hakone before going to Gotemba, you may think about using Fuji Hakone Pass. It covers from Odawara-Gotemaba-Fuji (Lake Kawaguchi)- Shinjuku in Tokyo.
      http://www.odakyu.jp/english/deels/freepass/fujihakone/

      Otherwise you need to purchase a regular ticket for Nagoya-Mishima by Shinkansen, Mishima to Gotemaba by bus, round trip bus fare to Fuji from Gotemba, and Gotemba to Tokyo bus. I think Fuji Hakone Pass is easier choice.

      In Tokyo, you may use subway pass or other deal.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/tokyo-kanto-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-best-deal-and-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      Single ticket is your choice for going to Haneda.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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