Travel in Nara with kids

When you travel with your kids, you would wonder what is fun for kids there and how easy to get around the place with them.

Especially if they are still really young, you need a place for changing diapers and would like to bring a stroller. 

Nara is an ancient town, which you can visit from both Osaka and Kyoto by a day trip. And this town is famous for deers strolling here and there, and temples there keep many important cultural assets.  It’s not so big as Osaka and Kyoto but it’s worth visiting and easy to enjoy with kids.

 

nara deer park

Before you go, check the list below introducing how to enjoy Kyoto both for adults and with your kids, and refer the indexes which helps you to plan your family trip.

*** Stroller accessibility : How much  you can see in the attraction with a stroller

A : You can explore the entire site with your stroller

B : You sometimes need to fold or leave your stroller

C : The ground is partly covered with pebbles or gravel

D : The combination of B&C and a stroller is not really recommended

 

Todaiji temple 

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This biggest wooden structured Buddha statue was originally made in 8th century, by the order of Emperor Shomu, wishing to remove disasters and epidemics in the country. 

The entrance for wheelchairs and strollers 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. 

Probably it’s faster to just lift or fold your stroller as it’s just less than 10 steps in a few points, then you won’t have to take a roundway and you’ll see everything as the others.

If your kids are enough old to walk (or crawl) by themselves, let them try get through the hole penetrating one of the big columns in the Buddha hall. It is said the hole is a gate to get evil spirits out from the main hall, which means evil spirits will get away from your mind and body when you get through the hole. Of course adults can try it, but first check the size of the hole and your body (so far everybody who tried has succeeded in getting through there though).

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

A changing station can be found in a restroom at the bus parking lot and Todaiji temple cultural center B1F.

 

 

Nara Park 

Stroller Accessibility : C

Many people think they 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 be more careful when kids feed deers because their 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). 

Hand your kids a cracker one by one, and keep the rest by yourself so that deers will not snatch all the crackers from them within a second. 

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 let strollers get around easily. Ukimido hall area is a nice place to rest.

The newest bus terminal beside the Nara prefecture government office is equipped with a changing station and breastfeeding room. 

 

Kasuga shrine 

Stroller Accessibility : D

According to a myth, a god riding on a deer landed in 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 is taken as a sacred animal).

The shrine is surrounded by virgin forest and this atmosphere makes this area 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 main shrine. To the main hall, you must take some stairs and it’s better to fold your stroller. The museum beside the parking lot is new and easy to get around even by stroller.

Let your kids try a fortune slip at the main hall. The slip is held by a wooden curved deer and you can keep the deer as a souvenir. 

A changing station is equipped in a toilet of Kokuhoden museum, which was restored in 2016 so it’s clean and comfortable.

 

Naramachi old town

Stroller Accessibility : B

The old town area of Nara still keeps old houses over 100 years old 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 strollers difficult to get inside, but those renovated houses such as Naramachi Nigiwai no ie is easy for strollers to get in. When you would like to explore the house more, just step inside with your shoes off. 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 ! 

Some of the houses are now used as restaurants and cafes after renovated. What is good about Japanese house is that you can let your baby stay on tatami floor so both you and baby can get some freedom. But don’t expect those houses to have a big restroom with a changing station.

A public hall called Naramachi center has a toilet with a changing station, located 2 minutes walk from Sarusawa pond. 

nara koshi no ie

 

Harushika Sake Brewery 

Stroller Accessibility : A

Even though you’re with kids, you still sometimes would like to drink, especially when traveling and there is something local and good. If you would like to try good local sake when visiting Nara, Harushika is a must-visit place. This brewery located in Haramachi 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 !), and  sake lee ice (0.7 % alc.) is something even kids might like ..!! 

The entrance is pretty flat and it’s no problem for strollers to get inside, while the toilet here is not ready for babies.

harushika sake

 

Kofukuji temple 

Stroller Accessibility : D

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 stroller because the temple is basically surrounded by stairs and most parts of the ground is sandy or covered with gravel. But you 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 anywhere.

A changing station is equipped in the toilet there.

 

Nara National Museum 

Stroller Accessibility : 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.

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

A changing station is equipped in the toilet.

Source : Flickr POHAN CHEN

 

Rickshaw service

If you would like to do sightseeing but tired with stroller, 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, so you can enjoy the view of Nara in a relaxing way. 

Your stroller can be tied on the back of the rickshaw, or kept by staff if it’s too big. 

 

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 here kids can run around freely in Nara park meeting deers and nature, and you can be more relaxed than staying Osaka and Kyoto.

Deers are always waiting for you here in the town !!

 

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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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