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. Hello Takeshi-san,

    I will be using JR hokuriku-takayama pass (5 days) for my trip as below:
    day 1 KIX – osaka stay in Tennoji area
    day 2 nara and transfer to kyoto
    day 3 kyoto and transfer to toyama
    day 4 alpine route ( murodo return trip from toyama) and transfer to takayama
    day 5 shirakawago ( return trip from takayama) and take direct bus to kawaguchiko
    day 6 to day 9 kawaguchiko and tokyo (not using any pass, maybe tokyo 72 hrs metro pass)

    there are things that i am not sure about as:
    1. if JR yamatoji line from tennoji to nara and JR miyakoji from nara to kyoto were covered by JR hokuriku-takayama pass?
    2. if they were covered, which one is more convinience to travel to kyoto. is it by JR miyakoji from nara or JR Haruka from tennoji?
    3. i am planning to go to alpine route on 20th nov. i know it will be closed from 8th nov but i’m wondering if i still can make a return trip to murodo? or do you know any place i can experience snow around that time without going far north to hokkaido?
    4. if nohi bus return trip from takayama to shirakawago were also covered by JR hokuriku-takayama pass?

    Thank you so much

    1. Hi Dewi san,

      Nara is not covered by this pass. This pass covers Yamatoji line between Tennoji and Kami only. You have to pay extra fare for Kami to Nara which is around 500 yen. You can pay this extra when you exit at Nara station. Kyoto to Nara is not covered either and this is more expensive and longer trip time.

      Alpine route is open until Nov 30.

      However the winter condition is expected in November. If you expect fall scenery, it will be completely different. You will see fall scenery at only beginning part.

      Nohi bus is covered by the pass.


      Takeshi /

      1. Thanks takeshi san. Then i might just cancel my plan to nara and just enjoy my time in osaka. I expect to see snow in alpine route. Finger crossed that the weather will be on our side on that day.

  2. Hello again, Takeshi.
    We want to go from Uehommachi station to Nara by Kintetsu Railways (travel dates: 14th or 15th October). Can I purchase the Rapid Expres ticket the same day I travel or is convenient purchase it some days before ?

    Many thanks.

  3. Hi Takeshi San,

    May I know which station in Osaka is the most convenience to stay nearby in order to get to USJ, Osaka aquarium, dotonbori, tenpozan, Nara and others sightseeing area.


  4. Hi Takeshi-san

    Kindly ask your favour for our next trip to japan as follow: use 7 day JR Pass
    Should we need another pass
    Day 1 – Arrv. Osaka ( 1N )
    Day 2 – Nara, Kyoto ( 1N )
    Day 3 – Kyoto, to Toyama ( 1N )
    Day 4 – Alpen route, Nagano SMPark to Kanazawa ( 1N )
    Day 5 – Shirakawago, via Kanazawa to Tokyo ( 1N )
    Day 6 – Yokohama to Tokyo ( 1N )
    Day 7 – Hakone to Tokyo ( 1N )
    Day 8 – Kawaguchiko to Tokyo (1N)
    Day 9,10 – Tokyo ( 2N ) use day pass
    Thanks and wait for your reply.

    1. Hi Christine san,

      You may need to add other deals or ticket by either using JR Pass or Hokuriku arch pass, such as subway in cities, bus to Shirakawago and Snow Moncky Park and Alpine route. Please see the link below.

      JR pass is okay but Hokuriku arch pass may be better choice for your trip.

      By the way, it’s too much to see Alpine route and Snow Monkey Park. And also, Alpine route is open until November. But in this season, you may not be able to see the snow in Snow Monkey Park. You may see some monkeys but not in snow.


      Takeshi /

  5. Ohayou gozaimasu, Takeshi –San,

    My husband and I will be travelling to Japan in Sept.2017. I have made an itinerary to include all we would enjoy and mostly doing our own walking tours. Is this itinerary too rushed for 10 days? Could I organize it better?

    Arigatou gozaimasu,

    JAPAN ITINERARY using 7 Day JR Pass and others

    DAY 1 – ARRIVAL @ KIX, TRAVEL to KYOTO, (Limo Bus to Kyoto)/Stay @ APA Villa Hotel Kyoto Ekimae
    DAY 2 – Kyoto NORTHERN HIGASHIYAMA, MUSEUMS & Samurai Show (Bus pass)
    DAY 5 – Mishima ONE DAY TOKAIDO TOUR to MT. FUJI area (via Tokaido Shinkansen) (check out/keep luggage@ APA Villa Hotel Kyoto Ekimae)
    Kyoto>Shizuoka> 10.30am TOUR >ends Mishima 1700-1830
    DAY 6 – Mishima>LAKE KAWAGUCHI >Mishima (via Fujikwo Highway Bus)
    Mishima Stn >back to Kyoto (evening Tokaido Shinkansen
    DAY 7- ONE DAY TRIP TO FUSHIMI INARII and NARA (JR Kyoto to JR Nara>JR Kyoto to Shin Osaka( Tokaido Shinkansen) Stay@ Hotel MyStays Shin -Osaka
    DAY 8 – ONE DAY TRIP TO HIROSHIMA from OSAKA (Sanyo Shinkansen)
    DAY 9 – OSAKA BAY AREA & UMEDA BLDG area (Osaka Loop Line /JR Pass and Subway)
    DAY 10- OSAKA CASTLE & CITY TOUR (Osaka Loop Line/Jr Pass and Subway) (check out/keep luggage@ MyStays Shin Osaka)
    7pm DEPARTURE to KIX (Shin-Osaka to KIX via Limited Haruka Line)

    1. Hi Saras san,

      I looked into your itinerary and it’s very organized. Your trip plan is great and I don’t have anything to mention to you.
      I have only one suggestion. For day 8 and 9, I recommend you to use Osaka amazing pass. It includes subway unlimited ride and admission for major attractions. I think it works for your trip.


      Takeshi /

  6. Hi Takeshi.What if my apartment is near to “ShinFukae” on the Osaka city “Sennichimae” Subway Line.
    Which route or line should i take to go to Nara Park?

  7. Hello Takeshi-san !

    I’ve read ALL your articles on osaka/kyoto but still I am having a headache choosing between city day passes, Kansai-thru pass, Kansai area pass,Kansai Wide area pass and Koyasan Heritage ticket…this is because i am travelling to some places outside the city too.

    This is my itinerary
    Day 1 – From Osaka, take day day trip to Kobe and Nara
    Day 2 – Osaka –> Mount Koya (day trip)
    Day 3 – Osaka aquarium, shinsaibashi
    Day 4 – Osaka Castle, Minoh Waterfall, train to Kyoto
    Day 5- Kyoto –> Amanohashidate (day trip)
    Day 6- Kyoto Arashimaya
    Day 7- Kyoto Fushimi Inari
    Day 8- Back to airport

    For Osaka, I am staying near JR Namba, and for Kyoto in Higashiyama near Gion-shijo.
    I could really use you advice please!

    1. Hi Esther san,

      I recommend you to use Kansai thru pass 3 days for day 1, 2 and 4. Osaka Kaiyu ticket is your choice for day 3.

      For day 5 to 8, you can use Kansai wide area pass.

      You cannot take JR trains from Gion-Shijo. So you need to add the fare to take subway, city bus or non JR trains to get JR stations. But you need this pass because of Amanohashidate. There is no other deals to cover the trip. You can take limited express Haruka to get KIX from Kyoto by this pass.


      Takeshi /

  8. Hi, Takeshi San.
    Our family of 4 people, with children 4 and 6 year old, will be travelling around Kansai area. Our itinerary is as follow:
    Day 1: Kansai International Airport to Osaka Station
    Day 2: Osaka Station to Kyoto (Day trip)
    Day 3: Osaka Station to Nara (Day trip)
    Day 4: Travel within Osaka city (Osaka castle)
    Day 5: Travel within Osaka city
    Day 5: Travel within Osaka city
    Day 7: Osaka City to Kansai International Airport
    Is the Kansai Thru Pass worth it? OR should we take the Airport Limousine to NARA? Thanks very much!

    1. Hi Goh san,

      Please see the link below to find the deal for day 1 and 7:

      Kansai thru pass 2 days is a good choice for day 2 and 3.

      Please find the info for sightseeing option in Osaka at the link below:


      Takeshi /

  9. Hi, Takeshi San.
    Our family of 4 people, with children 4 and 6 year old, will be travelling around Kansai area. Our itinerary is as follow:
    Day 1: Kansai International Airport to Osaka Station
    Day 2: Osaka Station to Kyoto (Day trip)
    Day 3: Osaka Station to Nara (Day trip)
    Day 4: Travel within Osaka city (Osaka castle), transfer to Universal-city station
    Day 5: No travel
    Day 6: Universal-city station to Kansai International Airport
    May I know what train pass to buy? Or single train tickets are better?

    1. Hi Ping san,

      You may use Haruka discount ticket round trip to Tennoji (2,200 yen) and Kansai one pass.

      You can get Osaka by Haruka discount ticket. You can also start using it from Universal city station. It covers Limited Express Haruka between Kansai airport and Tennoji. But you can take local train after/before taking Haruka.

      For 6 years old, use single fare ticket. Because Haruka discount ticket is not available for child. Free of charge for 4 years old.

      You may use Kansai one pass for trip within Osaka. For trip to Kyoto and Nara, Kansai thru pass 2 days is recommended:


      Takeshi /

  10. Aloha Takeshi-San!
    I have been told by people to get the JR Pass but others tell me that getting separate passes are cheaper since we are going to Nara/Osaka. Can you help? The followings is our itinerary:
    Day 1: Haneda – Osaka, Namba Station
    Day 2: Osaka Aquarium
    Day 3: Osaka – Nara (day trip)
    Day 4: Osaka Castle
    Day 5: Osaka, Namba Station – JR Shinjuku Station & Tokyo Dome
    Day 6: JR Shinjuku Station – Mt Fuji (day trip)
    Day 7: Tsukiji Market
    Day 8: Tokyo Area
    Day 9: JR Shinjuku Station – Haneda Airport


    1. Hi Michel san,

      JR pass is your choice because 7 days pass is almost equal to round trip fare between Tokyo and Osaka by Shinkansen. So you can use 7 days pass for the first 7 days.

      But you may need to add some extra even when you use JR pass. Please see the link below:

      You can use subway pass after you finish using JR Pass.

      I recommend you to visit Tsukiji on day 8 because only subway takes you there and JR pass does not work.

      Single ticket is only choice to get Haneda from Shinjuku.


      Takeshi /

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