Nara Full-day Private Tour with Government-Licensed Guide

6 hours
Pick-up offered
Free cancellation
1 - 15
Mobile ticket


Explore Nara with a government-licensed and experienced multilingual guide! Your guide will help you efficiently enjoy a half-day walking tour of Nara and introduce both modern and traditional sides of this dynamic and ancient Japanese city.

Nara's proximity to Kyoto and Osaka, and its rich collection of traditional sites, make it an ideal destination for a day trip from either of its larger neighbors. Your private guide can help you efficiently enjoy a half-day walking tour of this ancient Japanese city.

Note*1: Please select your must-see spots from a list in the tour information to create your customized itinerary.
Note*2: The National Government Licensed Guide Interpreter certification is issued by the Japanese government requires a good knowledge and understanding of Japanese culture and history.


  • Licensed Local Guide
  • Customizable Tour of your choice of 2-3 sites from 'What to expect' list

What to expect

This is a typical itinerary for this product

Stop At: Todai-ji Temple, 406-1 Zoushi-cho, Nara 630-8587 Nara Prefecture

Todaiji (東大寺, Tōdaiji, "Great Eastern Temple") is one of Japan's most famous and historically significant temples and a landmark of Nara. The temple was constructed in 752 as the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan and grew so powerful that the capital was moved from Nara to Nagaoka in 784 in order to lower the temple's influence on government affairs.

Until recently, Todaiji's main hall, the Daibutsuden (Big Buddha Hall), held the record as the world's largest wooden building, despite the fact that the present reconstruction of 1692 is only two thirds of the original temple hall's size. The massive building houses one of Japan's largest bronze statues of Buddha (Daibutsu). The 15 meters tall, seated Buddha represents Vairocana and is flanked by two Bodhisattvas.

Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Nara Park, 469 Zoshicho, Nara 630-8501 Nara Prefecture

Nara Park (奈良公園, Nara Kōen) is a large park in central Nara. Established in 1880, it is the location of many of Nara's main attractions including Todaiji, Kasuga Taisha, Kofukuji and the Nara National Museum. It is also home to hundreds of freely roaming deer.

Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Kasuga Taisha Shrine, 160 Kasuganochō, Nara, 630-8212, Japan

Kasuga Taisha (春日大社) is Nara's most celebrated shrine. It was established at the same time as the capital and is dedicated to the deity responsible for the protection of the city. Kasuga Taisha was also the tutelary shrine of the Fujiwara, Japan's most powerful family clan during most of the Nara and Heian Periods. Like the Ise Shrines, Kasuga Taisha had been periodically rebuilt every 20 years for many centuries. In the case of Kasuga Taisha, however, the custom was discontinued at the end of the Edo Period.

Beyond the shrine's offering hall, which can be visited free of charge, there is a paid inner area which provides a closer view of the shrine's inner buildings. Furthest in is the main sanctuary, containing multiple shrine buildings that display the distinctive Kasuga style of shrine architecture, characterized by a sloping roof extending over the front of the building.

Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Wakakusayama Hill, Kasuganocho, Nara, 630-8211, Japan

Mount Wakakusayama (若草山) is the grass covered mountain behind Nara Park, located between Todaiji Temple and Kasuga Shrine. The mountain is about 350 meters tall and affords unobstructed views over Nara City. Tourists are allowed to climb Mount Wakakusayama all year round except during winter. A small entrance fee is charged.

The grassy slope of the mountain is lined by cherry trees that are usually in full bloom around early April. A steep trail leads along the leftmost edge of the slope to a plateau halfway up the mountain with great views over the city. It takes about 15-20 minutes to reach the plateau and many people do not hike farther. An additional 20-30 minutes would get you to the mountain's peak.

Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Horyu-ji Temple, 1-1 Horyuji Sannai, Ikaruga-cho, Ikoma-gun 636-0115 Nara Prefecture

Horyuji Temple (法隆寺, Hōryūji) was founded in 607 by Prince Shotoku, who is credited with the early promotion of Buddhism in Japan. Horyuji is one of the country's oldest temples and contains the world's oldest surviving wooden structures. It was designated a world heritage site in 1993. Horyuji's temple grounds are spacious and separated into two main precincts, the Western Precinct (Saiin Garan) and the Eastern Precinct (Toin Garan).

Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Naramachi, Nara Nara Prefecture

Naramachi (奈良町, literally "Nara Town") is the former merchant district of Nara, where several traditional residential buildings and warehouses are preserved and open to the public. Boutiques, shops, cafes, restaurants and a few museums now line the district's narrow lanes.

Many of Naramachi's buildings in the Edo Period and earlier were machiya, long, narrow "townhouses" that served both as shops and as the living quarters of the local merchants. The store fronts of machiya were often kept narrow in order to save on taxes, which used to be calculated on a property's street access rather than its total area. Today, a handful of machiya have been preserved and made open to the public as museums.

Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Kofuku-ji Temple, 48 Noboriojicho, Nara 630-8213 Nara Prefecture

Kofukuji (興福寺, Kōfukuji) used to be the family temple of the Fujiwara, the most powerful aristocratic clan during much of the Nara and Heian Periods. The temple was established in Nara at the same time as the capital in 710. At the height of Fujiwara power, the temple consisted of over 150 buildings.

The temple features several buildings of great historic value, including a five-storied pagoda and a three-storied pagoda. At 50 meters, the five-storied pagoda is Japan's second tallest wooden pagoda, just seven meters shorter than the five-storied pagoda at Kyoto's Toji Temple. Kofukuji's pagoda is both a landmark and symbol of Nara. It was first built in 730, and was most recently rebuilt in 1426. Neither pagoda can be entered by the public.

Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Yakushiji Temple, 880 Shimobuchi, Oyodo-cho, Yoshino-gun 638-0821 Nara Prefecture

Yakushiji (薬師寺) was constructed by Emperor Tenmu in the late 7th century for the recovery of the emperor's sick wife. One of Japan's oldest temples, Yakushiji has a strictly symmetric layout, with the main hall and lecture hall standing on a central axis, flanked by two pagodas.

The main hall was rebuilt in the 1970s after being destroyed by fire and houses a Yakushi trinity, a masterpiece of Japanese Buddhist art. The East Pagoda is the temple's only structure to have survived the many fires that have beset the temple over the years, and dates from 730. It appears to have six stories, but is in fact only truly three-storied, like the West Pagoda.

Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Shinyakushiji Temple, 1352 Takabatakecho, Nara 630-8301 Nara Prefecture

Shin-Yakushiji Temple (新薬師寺) was founded during the Nara Period (710-794) by an empress for the sake of the ailing emperor. It is devoted to Yakushi Buddha, the patron of medicine in Japanese Buddhism. Shin-Yakushiji means "New Yakushi Temple", because there already existed a Yakushiji Temple. During its heyday, Shin-Yakushiji consisted of a large complex of buildings, but all except for the main hall (Hondo) have since been lost.

Inside the main hall there are life size statues of 12 guardian deities surrounding a two meter tall statue of a seated Yakushi Buddha, which are the temple's main objects of worship. The Yakushi statue is made of wood while the guardians are made of clay. Each guardian has a different character and possesses a different weapon, and visitors can spend quite a while admiring them. There are also a few small paths around the temple grounds.

Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Nara National Museum, 50 Noboriojicho, Nara 630-8213 Nara Prefecture

The Nara National Museum (奈良国立博物館, Nara Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan), located in Nara Park, is an art museum which primarily displays Japanese Buddhist art. Established in 1889, the museum retains its original building and is joined by a new wing that is connected to the original building by an underground passage.

Both wings display the museum's permanent collection, which includes Buddhist statues, paintings, scrolls and ceremonial objects mainly from Japan. The new wing also houses temporary exhibitions, including an annual exhibition every autumn of treasures from Todaiji Temple. A ticket to the museum gives access to both wings, and English explanations are available throughout the museum.

Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Heijō Palace Site Historical Park, 3-chōme-5-番1号 Nijōōjiminami, Nara, 630-8012, Japan

During most of the Nara Period (710-794), Nara served as the capital of Japan and was known as Heijo-kyo. The Heijo Palace extended about one kilometer wide and one kilometer long and served as the site of the emperor's residence and government offices. For its great historical and cultural importance, the palace site is included as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Nara.

Duration: 15 minutes

Stop At: Toshodai-ji Temple, Nara 630-8032 Nara Prefecture

Toshodaiji (唐招提寺, Tōshōdaiji) was founded in the year 759 by Ganjin, a Chinese priest who was invited to Japan by the emperor in order to train priests and improve Japanese Buddhism. Ganjin's influence in the introduction of Buddhism to Japan was monumental, and his arrival and teaching at Toshodaiji (which roughly translates to "temple of the one invited from Tang China") were important stages in that process.

Toshodaiji's main hall (kondo) was re-opened in late 2009 after being renovated over a period of almost ten years, during which the building was dismantled and reconstructed. The temple's lecture hall (kodo) was originally an administrative building located in the Nara Imperial Palace and was later moved to Toshodaiji. Today, it is the only surviving building of the former palace.

Duration: 15 minutes

Stop At: Isuien Garden, 74 Suimoncho, Nara 630-8208 Nara Prefecture

Isuien (依水園) is an attractive Japanese garden with a variety of features, such as the use of Todaiji Temple's Nandaimon Gate and Mount Wakakusayama as "borrowed scenery". Isuien means "garden founded on water", and the garden's name is derived from the fact that its ponds are fed by the small adjacent Yoshikigawa River. The Yoshikien Garden is located just on the other side of the river.

Duration: 15 minutes

Stop At: Yoshikien, 60-1 Noboriojicho, Nara 630-8213 Nara Prefecture

Yoshikien (吉城園) is a pleasant Japanese garden located in central Nara. It is named after the Yoshikigawa River, a small river that runs beside the garden, and was built on the site of Kofukuji Temple's former priest residences. The entry fee to the garden is waived for foreign tourists.

There are three unique gardens within Yoshikien: a pond garden, a moss garden and a tea ceremony garden. So, a visit to Yoshikien provides the opportunity to see three different variations of Japanese gardens in one spot. If visitors still want to see more techniques of Japanese gardening, the Isuien Garden is located just across the small river.

Duration: 15 minutes

Additional information

  • Infant seats available
  • Service animals allowed
  • Near public transportation
  • Stroller accessible
  • Surfaces are wheelchair accessible
  • Transportation is wheelchair accessible
  • Most travelers can participate
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund
  • This is a private tour/activity. Only your group will participate
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking

Ticket delivery

You can present either a paper or an electronic voucher for this activity.


For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start time of the experience.
February 2023

We spent the tour with Taku Tanimoto and he was simply excellent. Friendly, well organised and articulate, he met us at our Kyoto hotel and showed us around Nara for the day. He was extremely knowledgeable, entertaining and hit the right balance of history, discussion and interesting anecdotes ab...

January 2023

Guide: TAKU TANIMOTO My family of four had the best time in this awesome place and it was highlighted by our eloquent speaker guide, Taku. He was receptive to all our queries, knowledgeable, but then this are what we expect of guides right… well, in our experiences in traveling the world, and wi...

January 2023

We had a fantastic tour with your guide Yuri! She has incredible knowledge about the area and adapted the experience to our needs and wants. She went out of her way to meet us at our hotel and made sure we got back okay! I would happily do another tour with her in the future.

December 2022

We had the most special day in Nara! Our tour guide, Eric, was very informative, helpful, and accommodating (we were traveling as 4 adults and an 8month old). He met us at our hotel and helped us navigate the train from Kyoto to Nara. We visited the Kasuga Shrine, Nara Park, & Todaiji Temple. We ...

September 2022

I've been to Nara a few times now but it was nice to visit new places and know the history of the place with the help of our guide, Hiro-san! He even gave us chocolates as prizes and freebies! It was a really fun learning experience! P.S He also takes good pictures! Arigatou gozaimasu 🙏

January 2021

My guide Taku was very informative on the history, religion and culture of Japan, whatever you ask him, you will get a response! I loved this tour and Nara was just amazing. I would strongly recommend if you want to know more about Nara and Japan.

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