Travel in Nara by wheelchair

When you travel, you might be with somebody who needs a wheelchair, but you would wonder if you can enjoy the sightseeing places by the vehicle. 

Nara is an ancient capital, older than Kyoto, and the old culture still remains there with a plenty of nature. After 10 minutes walk from Kintetsu Nara station, you have a chance to greet deers as a vast park, which is the deers habitat, is spreading over there. 

nara deer park

 

Before you go, check the list below with the indexes to show how easy to get around each place by wheelchair.

 

*** Accessibility  :  How much  you can see in the attraction with a wheelchair 

A : You can explore the entire site 

B : You can see some parts of the site.

C : You can see the site only from the outside.

D : You can see nothing at the site. 

 

***Bump Level 

A : The site paths are basically all covered with asphalt or non-bumpy tiles.

B : The site paths are partly covered with pebbles, gravel or anything bumpy.

C : The site paths are mostly covered with pebbles, gravel or anything bumpy.

 

 

Todaiji temple 

Accessibility : B

Bump Level : B

 

This biggest wooden structured Buddha statue was originally made in 8th century, by the order of Emperor Shomu, wishing to remove disasters and epidemics in the country with the help of Buddha. 

Nandaimon gate, the main gate leading to the main hall, is standing on a stage with steep stairs, and wheelchair users can go by a roundabout way beside the gate. 

The entrance for wheelchairs is beside the general entrance, and the staff will open the gate for you once you announce them. The route to the Great Buddha statue is not the same one as the other visitors and you cannot get through the middle of the precincts, but you can get to see the giant sacred statue as close as the others. 

The stone tiles on the path are not too bumpy but you must be careful with deers’ poop on the ground. 

 

Nara Park 

Accessibility : B

Bump Level : B

You might think you must go to Nara park to see deers besides Todaiji Temple, but actually Todaiji temple is in Nara Park and you can meet deers when you visit Todaiji temple. You can buy deer crackers at the temple to feed the deers. Just wheelchair users has to be more careful than other people when feeding deers because the height is much closer to that of deers, and deers might approach too close (they might bite you actually but never too dangerous, don’t worry). 

Other than feeding deers, just wandering in the park is really relaxing. Most parts of the park ground is grassy (never too much as deers helps mowing all the time), while there are some paved paths which make wheelchairs get around easily. Ukimido hall area is a nice place to rest.

 

Kasuga shrine 

Accessibility : B

Bump Level : B

According to a myth, a god riding on a deer came to this area from Kashima (north east of Tokyo), and that’s the origin of this Kasuga shrine (and that’s why deers in this town are taken as a sacred animal).

The shrine is surrounded by virgin forest and this atmosphere makes you feel sacred and refreshed.

The approach from the main street to the shrine is gravel but there is a paved slope between the parking lot and the entrance of the main hall. Unfortunately it’s difficult to step into the main hall by wheelchair. The Kokuhoden museum beside the parking lot is new and easy to get around even by wheelchair.

 

Naramachi old town

Accessibility : B

Bump Level : A

nara koshi no ie

The old town area of Nara still keeps old houses over 100 years and some  have run business there over hundreds years. Some of the houses are renovated and open for visitors. Basically Japanese houses, especially old houses, have many steps and narrow entrance,  which makes wheelchairs difficult to get inside, but those renovated houses such as “Naramachi Nigiwai No Ie” is easy for wheelchairs to get in, and you can see how the structure of a traditional Japanese house look like (and this place is for free !) . 

Just wandering in the town is also fun to find something old and traditional here and there. Sarusawa pond area is cozy to stay and bathe together with turtles. Also don’t miss mochi making performance at Nakatanido when you pass by Sanjo street ! 

 

Harushika Sake Brewery 

harushika sake

Accessibility : A

Bump Level : A

If you would like to try good local sake when visiting Nara, Harushika is a must-visit place. This brewery located in Naramachi is housed in a traditional Japanese house, and offers sake tasting with a cute sake glass as a souvenir (the color of the glass changes every season).

Of course you can buy bottles of sake there ( they have a plenty types !), but also sake lee ice (0.7 % alc.) is another thing to try ! 

The entrance is pretty flat and it’s no problem for wheelchairs to get inside. 

 

 

Kofukuji temple 

Accessibility : B

Bump Level : B

When people think of a temple in Nara, first Todaiji temple with the Great Buddha statue comes into your mind, but Kofukuji temple, which has older history than Todaiji and is located between Kintetsu Nara station and Todaiji temple,  should give you another awesome impression. 

Basically this temple is difficult to get around by wheelchair because the temple is basically surrounded by stairs and most parts of the ground is sandy or covered with gravel. But wheelchairs can access to the museum to see many important cultural properties (Statue of Ashura with 3 heads is the most famous one), and some of the temple buildings are enough big to be seen from the parking lot.

 

Nara National Museum 

Source : Flickr POHAN CHEN

Accessibility : A

Bump Level : A

The best museum to see the collection of Buddhism art, not only Buddha statues but also many other national treasures and important cultural properties such as documents, pictures, pots from old centuries.

Wheelchairs can get around the museum by using elevators. A staff of the museum helps you to direct the elevator. 

 

Rickshaw service

If you would like to do sightseeing by another vehicle than wheelchair, why not hire a rickshaw for a moment ??

Though the area where a rickshaw can get around is limited (for example, they can’t get into a temple nor shrine), it goes slower than taxi, less hassle than wheelchair, so you can enjoy the view of Nara in a relaxing way. 

The driver helps you to get on the rickshaw, and the agency keeps your wheelchair during the tour.

 

Nara is not so big as Osaka nor Kyoto, so even in 1 day you can enjoy the center of Nara enough. 

Historical sites are sometimes difficult to get around as there are so many steps and stairs to get up and down, but still there are many places you can enjoy by wheelchair. 

So don’t hesitate to travel in Nara and enjoy your trip ! 

 

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Read more : 

Travel in Osaka by wheelchair

Travel in Kyoto by wheelchair

Travel in Nara with kids

 

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tokie

A tourist guide, showing everywhere in Japan. Guide hundreds of people from all over the world every year. Born in Osaka, lived in Australia and Sweden. Traveled in more than 50 countries.

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