Nara Guide: Nara City Buses
Nara Travel Guide: Getting Around Nara By Bus
Nara is a fairly compact town which can easily be explored on foot or by rental bicycle.
However using the bus in Nara is the best way to visit outlying sights such as Toshodaiji, Yakushi, Horyuji, Chuguji, Horinji and Hokiji temples. Also if you have a Nara pass, using the bus can save time getting between attractions, especially if you avoid the rush hours.
Nara city now operates three loop buses aimed directly at tourists in the city. These are the yellow Nara City Loop Line #1 (anti-clockwise), Nara City Loop Line #2 (clockwise) and green Inner Loop Bus #6.
Loop Line buses #1 and #2 stop at both JR Nara Station and Kintetsu Nara Station which are the two main bus terminals in Nara and are useful to getting to the main attractions in Nara including Kofukuji, Nara National Museum, Todaiji, Kasuga Taisha and Gangoji in Naramachi.
Inner Loop Bus #6 (naka-junkan) performs a smaller loop from Kintetsu Nara Station to Todaiji and around the south end of Naramachi and back to Kintetsu Nara Station.
Nara City Buses
JR Nara Station
JR Nara Station has bus stops at both its East and West exits.
From the East Exit buses #50, #82 and #92 pass Kofukuji and the Nara Hotel before going south to Tenri. Bus #51 goes to Shimoyama and #53 to Kubonosho. These buses depart from bus stop number 1.
Bus #70 runs to Kasuga Taisha Shrine from Toshodaiji, while the #97 connects Yakushiji and Horyuji, with Kasuga Taisha Shrine. Bus #72 follows basically the same route from Nishinokyo Station to Todaiji and then south to Takabatake-cho.
From JR Nara Station West Exit buses #12 and #14 run out to the Heijo Palace Site, the Daigokuden Hall and the Suzakumon Gate. If you ride buses #70 #72 and #97 towards the Heijo Palace Site get off at the Sanjoji-yonchome stop and walk 400m north. Bus 160 from the west side also goes to Suzakumon Gate.
Kintetsu Nara Station
At Kintetsu Nara Station bus stops are located on the north and south sides of Omiya Street where the station is located.
On the north side, Nara City Loop Line Bus #2, the Inner Loop Bus #6, #70, #72, #97 and #160 run to Nara Park, Todaiji Temple and Kasuga Taisha Shrine. The Nara City Loop Line Bus #2 and the Inner Loop Bus #6 are handy for Naramachi and Gangoji Temple. All these buses stop at bus stop number 1.
From bus stop number 3 the #50, #51, #53, #82 and #92 go to Gangoji and Naramachi. From bus stop 13 the #12 and #13 buses go west to the Heijo Palace Site and Daigokuden Hall. The Kintetsu Nara Bus Information Center is on this side as is the Meitetsu bus stop for Nagoya. The Kintetsu Nara Bus Information Center is open from 8.30am-8pm on weekdays and 8.30am-7pm on weekends and public holidays.
From the south side of Omiya Street the Nara City Loop Line Bus #1 goes to Nara JR Station from bus stop 9. From bus stop 8 catch the #70 #72 and #97 buses to Yakushiji, Toshodaiji, Hokiji and Horyuji Temple. From bus stop 11, the #160 bus connects to Heijo Palace Site and Suzakumon Gate.
100 Yen Gurutto Buses
There are two 100 yen Gurutto services in Nara running from 9am-5pm daily with buses about every 15-20 minutes. The buses are the red-coded Nara Park Route (奈良公園ルート) and the blue-coded Ruins of Heijokyo Palace Route (平城宮跡ルート –) . The Nara Park Route begins from Nara Park Prefectural Office and has stops at Kintetsu Nara Station, Nara City Hall, Hokkeji/Kairyuoji temples, Former Imperial Audience Hall, Suzaku Gate, Nara City Hall, JR Nara Station West Exit, Nara Crafts Museum, Nara Hotel and back to Nara Park Prefectural Office.
Nara Bus Passes
If you are going to make best use of the buses in Nara consider buying one of the three bus passes available.
The 1-Day Pass costs 500 yen (child 250 yen) and covers buses to Nara Park, Todaiji, Kasuga Taisha Shrine, Kofukuji, Naramachi, Yakushiji and Toshodaiji.
The 1-Day Pass Wide costs 1,000 yen (child 500 yen) and covers buses to Nara Park, Todaiji, Kasuga Taisha Shrine, Kofukuji, Naramachi, Yakushiji, Toshodaiji and buses out further to Horyuji.
The 2-Day Pass Wide costs 1,500 yen (child 700 yen) and covers buses to Nara Park, Todaiji, Kasuga Taisha Shrine, Kofukuji, Naramachi, Yakushiji, Toshodaiji and buses out further to Horyuji.
Both passes can be purchased at either JR Nara Station or Kintetsu Nara Station Bus Information Center.
You can also use the IC cards ICOCA or PiTaPa but not presently SUICA, PASMO or Manaca IC cards on Nara Kotsu buses.
Useful Nara Bus Routes For Visitors
Buses #70, #72 and #97 for Toshodaiji and Yakushi temples.
Bus #97 for Horyuji and Hokiji temples.
Buses #2, #6, #70, #72, #97 and #160 for Todaiji.
Buses #2, #6, #70, #72, #97 for Kasuga Taisha.
Buses #50, #52, #53, #82, #92 for Gangoji Temple.
Buses #12, #14 and #160 for Heijo Palace Site (Nara Palace Site).
Highway buses from Bay 4 at the East Exit of JR Nara Station run to Nagoya (Meitetsu), Shinjuku Station (Nara Kotsu) and Tokyo Disneyland, Yokohama & Kaihin-Makuhari Station for Makuhari Messe (Nara Kotsu).
See the Nara Kotsu website for full details or routes and fares in Japanese, Chinese and English.
Nara Kotsu runs a number of sightseeing tour buses in Nara.
The Half Day A Course departs from JR Nara Station at 9.05am and Kintetsu Nara Station at 9.10am and takes in Kofukuji, Todaiji and Kasuga Taisha. The tour ends at Kofukuji at 12 noon. The cost is 3,000 yen for adults.
The Half Day B Course departs from JR Nara Station at 9.05am and Kintetsu Nara Station at 9.10am and takes in Kofukuji, Todaiji, Kasuga Taisha and Kasuya-Okuyama Driveway. The tour ends at JR Nara Station at 12.50pm. The cost is 4,000 yen for adults.
The Half Day L2 Course (Nishinokyo Yu-yu Busline) departs from JR Nara Station at 1.55pm and Kintetsu Nara Station at 2pm and takes in the Nara Palace Site, Toshodaiji and Yakushiji Temple. The tour ends at JR Nara Station at 5pm. The cost is 2,500 yen for adults.
The Full Horyuji & Nishinokyo Area Tour departs from JR Nara Station at 9.55am and Kintetsu Nara Station at 10am and takes in the Nara Palace Site, Toshodaiji Temple, Yakushiji Temple, Jiko-in, Chuguji Temple and Horyuji Temple. The tour ends at JR Nara Station at 5pm. The cost is 7,000 yen for adults.
Free Nara Excursion Bus
From July 24-October 31 in 2015 free buses on Tuesday, Thursday Saturday and Sunday were provided for foreign visitors to either Asuka or Yoshino in Nara Prefecture. The buses depart from the Nara Visitor Center & Inn at 9am and arrive at the Asuka Ishibutai at 10.20am and Mt. Yoshino at 11.05am. The buses leave Mt. Yoshino at 3.30pm, Asuka Ishibutai at 4.15pm and arrive back in Nara at 5.30pm. It is expected this service will continue in subsequent years.