Nara is my favorite place to chase Japan’s famous cherry blossoms. Here, parks, gardens, temples, and shrines are filled with this iconic image of a sea of cherry trees!

Nara is also home to Mt. Yoshino where 30,000 cherry blossom trees of different varieties are planted alongside the slope of the mountain, earning its title as Japan’s best cherry blossom spot.

If you’re in a hurry, here’s my quick guide for a day trip to Nara.

Cherry Blossom Kansai Series:

• Kansai, Japan Itinerary! Exploring Osaka, Nara & Mie using the Kintetsu Railway Pass!
• Visit The Best Cherry Blossom Spot in Japan! (Mt. Yoshino & Nara Park Itinerary)
• Nabano No Sato: Flower Park and Winter Illumination Guide!

Watch Cherry Blossoms in Japan: Sakura Season in Kansai (Vlog)

DAY TRIP TO NARA (SAMPLE ITINERARY)
8:45 Meet up at hotel lobby
9:05 Leave Osaka Uehonmachi (take the rapid express train)
9:40 Reach Kintetsu Nara Station
VISIT: Nara Park, Todaiji temple, Kasuga Taisha (Kasuga Grand Shrine), Lunch
14:05 Leave Kintetsu Nara Station (take the express train)
15:26 Reach Yoshino Station
VISIT: Yoshino Mountain Sakura, Dinner
18:34 Leave Yoshino Station (take the limited express train)
19:54 Reach Osaka Abenobashi Station
Accommodation at Sheraton Miyako Hotel Osaka

 

How To Get There:
35 minutes from Osaka-Uehommachi to Kintetsu Nara. (Y560/person)
Note: I prefer using the Kintetsu line because it’ll just take a quick 5-minute walk to reach the park.

Free if you use your Kintetsu Rail Pass.  (Online Purchase: www.kintetsu.affiliates.veltra.com)

(Kintetsu Rail Pass Online Purchase)

 

NARA DEER PARK & TODAI-JI TEMPLE

Meet the Sacred Deer of Nara Park!

It’s enchanting to visit Nara in spring. With the cherry blossoms plus the deers roaming around, it almost feels like a fairytale! Many people visit Nara for the lovable bowing deers that wander freely in the park, alongside the shrines, temples and ruins that are collectively a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

The deers here are sacred animals believed to be messengers of the Shinto Gods. They are so used to being fed that once you hold a cracker in your hand, the deers will automatically bow their head! Sugoi! But don’t be surprised when a feeding frenzy happens, and all the deers flock to you! It’s not uncommon for a deer to chase and bump you when it gets frustrated when it doesn’t get fed.

 

There are numerous vendors throughout the park that sell deer cracker for ¥150.

 

When they hear the word Nara, most visitors think of the deer roaming in Nara Park. But Todaiji Temple, Kofukuji Temple, Kasuga Taisha Shrine, Nara National Museum and the Shosoin are all located inside the park.

Among the temples in Nara, it is the 8th century Todai-ji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is the most popular attraction.

 

It houses the massive bronze sitting Buddha statue weighing 500 tons!

There are so many shrines in Nara Park it will take up your whole day to visit all of them. In our case, we had to cut it short so we could still go to Mt. Yoshino.

 

HOW TO GET THERE: NARA -> MT. YOSHINO
1 hour and 39 minutes from Kintetsu-Nara to Yoshino. (Y850)
Note: There are two transfers between Nara and Yoshino Station.

Free if you use your Kintetsu Rail Pass.  (Online Purchase: www.kintetsu.affiliates.veltra.com)

 

 

MT. YOSHINO

If you want to chase sakura wonderland, be ready to leave the crowded cities of Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo. Mount Yoshino in the Nara prefecture has been Japan’s most famous cherry blossom spot. About 1,300 years ago, 30,000 cherry blossom trees of different varieties were planted alongside the slope of the mountain, creating this beautiful pink sea of flowers.

 

We found out that Mt. Yoshino, surprisingly, has the oldest cable car in Japan. Although walking is more preferable to take in the sights, I suggest you do both! It was raining when we visited, so we opted to ride the cable car instead. (Cable car ¥450)

The site has four sections with the lower levels blooming first and the upper levels blooming last because of the cooler temperature.

 

The whole mountain is a World Heritage Site complete with cafes and souvenir shops that offer pink-themed cherry blossom snacks with drinks and a gorgeous window view of the valley to boot. The snacks are a bit pricey though at ¥600+, but how can you argue with a view like this?

 

Besides the cherry blossoms, you can also visit Kinpusenji Temple and other shrines along the pathway.

The Kinpusenji is the main branch of Shugendo, a religion that worships the mountains and combines both Shinto and Buddhism practices. The 1,300-year-old temple, claiming to be the second largest wooden structure in Japan next to Nara’s Todaiji Temple, is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Visitors can enjoy being surrounded by the pink and white scenery and revel in the cultural and spiritual significance of the area.

When To Visit:
The best time to visit is in late March until mid-April. Make sure to check the sakura forecast because blooming time varies each year depending on the weather.

Aside from the cherry blossom season, another best time to visit is during fall—with the breathtaking colourful autumn foliage—when the leaves begin to turn crimson and yellow.

Mt. Yoshino–The World Heritage National Park
2430 Yoshinoyama Yoshino-cho Yoshino-gun Nara-Pref JAPAN 639-3115
landline: 0746-32-1007
website: www.yoshinoyama-sakura.jp

 

We grabbed the Kintetsu Rail Pass that allowed us to head easily to the best spots in Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Mie and Nagayo! Get unlimited rides on the Kintetsu Railway and Nara Kotsu Bus Lines within your selected time frame. You can choose from 1-day, 2-day or 5-day value tickets according to what’s best for your itinerary.

For our itinerary, basically all Kintetsu train rides and bus are free, except for “limited express”.
1-Day Kintetsu Rail Pass: Php 698 (Y1,500)
(Location: Osaka, Nara, Kyoto)
(Unlimited rides on Kintetsu Railway and Nara Kotsu Bus Lines)
(Special benefits offered by facilities)
2-Day Kintetsu Rail Pass: Php 1,163 (Y2500)
(Location: Osaka, Nara, Kyoto)
(Unlimited rides on Kintetsu Railway and Nara Kotsu Bus Lines)
(Special benefits offered by facilities)
5-Day Kintetsu Rail Pass: Php 1,675 (Y3,600)
(Location: Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Mie, Nagoya)
(Unlimited rides on Kintetsu Line, Iga Tetsudo Line)
(Special benefits offered by facilities including Nabana No Sato)
5-Day Kintetsu Rail Pass Plus: Php 2,237 (Y4800)
(Location: Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Mie, Nagoya)
(Unlimited rides on Kintetsu Line, Iga Tetsudo Line, Nara Kotsu Bus, Mie Kotsu Bus and Toba City ‘Kamome’ (sea gull) Bus Lines)
(Special benefits offered by facilities including Nabana No Sato)

I heard it’s cheaper if you buy online outside of Japan. (Where to Buy: www.kintetsu.affiliates.veltra.com)

 

Cherry Blossom Kansai Series:

• Kansai, Japan Itinerary! Exploring Osaka, Nara & Mie using the Kintetsu Railway Pass!
• Visit The Best Cherry Blossom Spot in Japan! (Mt. Yoshino & Nara Park Itinerary)
• Nabano No Sato: Flower Park and Winter Illumination Guide!

Watch Cherry Blossoms in Japan: Sakura Season in Kansai (Vlog)

 

Live an Awesome Life,


ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet

Disclosure: We were media guests of Kintetsu. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions and insights.