Visiting the Nara Park Deer and Todaiji Temple in Nara, Japan, is a popular tourist attraction for its massive wooden structure and its famous four-legged inhabitants. With hundreds in sight, these deer have taken over Nara Park, and they’ll even bow to you in exchange for food. This is amazing in its own right, but their undivided attention can be a bit overwhelming for unexpecting travelers.
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Nara Park Deer Visiting Information
Main Visitor Info
- 406-1 Zoshicho, Nara, 630-8211, Japan
- +81 742-22-5511
- Dates & Hours:
- Nara park: Open 24 hours
- Great Buddha Hall
- April-Oct: 7:30 am to 5:30 pm
- Nov-Mar: 8 am to 5 pm
- Todai-ji Museum
- April-Oct: 9:30 am to 5:30 am (Last admission at 5 pm)
- Nov-Mar: 9:30 am to 5 pm (Last admission at 4:30 pm)
- Dates and hours of operations may change. We recommend checking their website beforehand to confirm their business hours.
- Ages 5 and under: Free
- Ages 6-12: 300 Yen ~ $2.25 USD
- Ages 13 and up: 600 Yen ~$4.50 USD
- There is a discount if you have 30 or more people in your group.
- How much we spent during our visit:
- Total: 1900 Yen ~ $14.25 USD
- 2 Adults and 1 child. Emree was free.
- 2 Deer food crackers: 400 Yen ~ $3 USD
- Total: 1900 Yen ~ $14.25 USD
- How to get there:
- Get off at Kintetsu-Nara Station.
- Go to Bus Stop No. 2 – Nara City Loop (Yellow Bus)
- Adult (Age 12+): 220 Yen ~ $1.65 USD
- Child (Age 6-11): 110 Yen ~ $0.82 USD
- Child (Age 1-5): Ride free with a paid adult fare
- Feed crackers to the bowing deers.
- Visit a 500-ton Buddha sculpture (the largest bronze statue in the world).
- Time spent:
- 1 hour and 45 mins
- Where we ate:
- We picked up some food/snacks from the street vendors in the area.
- Stroller friendly:
- Yes, flushable toilets. Make sure to carry hand soap with you since most public restrooms in Japan don’t provide it. We brought our Sud2go hand wash cap.
- What we observed:
- We recommend having internet access and downloading “Google Maps” to get around Japan. This will help you figure out what rail line to take for your trips. You can also ask a station employee to assist you.
- Also download “Google Translate” to understand signages.
- There are warning signs around the park stating that deer are wild animals and can occasionally attack people (i.e. bite, kick, butt, knock down) and to please be careful.
- Before you arrive, we recommend that you put away any food or snacks deep inside your bag/backpack. The deer tried to snag snacks from our pockets and pulled out a bag of food from the bottom of our stroller.
- You can buy deer crackers from any of the cart stands along the road. It’s 200 Yen ~ $1.50 USD for a stack of crackers.
- It’s best to feed them when there is only one or two deer max. Feeding a group larger than that caused them to be a little aggressive.
- If you head towards the Todai-ji Temple and walk pass the Nandai-mon wooden gate entrance. We found that the area had less deer, they were calm, and we felt more comfortable for the girls to feed them.
things to bring
- Check the weather before you go. The weather can be changeable; layered clothing and closed toe shoes are recommended.
- What we packed:
- Cash, travel stroller, lip sunscreen, sunscreen, phone charger, hand sanitizer, Suds2go hand wash cap, water wipes, snacks, and water.
- You can get the links to all our travel essentials here: Travel Essentials | Califoreigners
- Where we stayed:
- Courtyard by Marriott Shin-Osaka Station (1 Chome-2-70 Miyahara, Yodogawa Ward, Osaka, 532-0003, Japan) – This is where we stayed.
- Remm-Shin-Osaka (1 Chome-1-1 Miyahara, Yodogawa Ward, Osaka, 532-0003, Japan) – Cheaper option at the Skin-Osaka Station
- Ways to save money:
- Pick up food, snacks and drinks from 7-Eleven, Lawson or Family Mart.
- Other places to visit in the Japan:
- Recommended itinerary:
- Nara Park
- Todai-Ji Temple
- Fushimi Ward
- Follow us on Instagram @thecaliforeigners, Youtube @Califoreigners, TikTok @Califoreigners
What We Said In Our Nara Park Deer Video
Getting there from JR Nara Station is an easy 5-10minute bus ride on the number 6 line. Helpful bus signage is posted outside the train station with arrows on the ground directing you to the queue. Once you’re on the bus, it’s only six stops to the Todaiji Daibutsuden, but we got off earlier at Nara National Museum to walk the remainder of the way to Todaiji Temple.
Even before the bus comes to a stop, you’ll see hundreds of deer, and as you walk the sidewalk, they’ll all but ignore you until you buy their food crackers from a nearby vendor. After that, they’ll quickly surround you. So if you’re bringing young ones, use A LOT of caution. While the deer are docile for the most part, they’re still wild animals that CAN and WILL bite, kick, or nudge to get your attention. Feeding and interacting with the deer is an amazing experience in singles and pairs. But once you’ve drawn the attention of a group, it’s best to tuck the food away and move into an area with fewer deer.
I am not saying, “Don’t come here if you have young kids.” We loved it. And the girls did too, but if you’re not paying attention to the animal’s behavior, someone in your group could easily get nipped or knocked over. But, once the food is gone, the deer’s attention is gone.
The awe-inspiring part of the visit starts once you’ve walked through Nandaimon Gate and its guardians. The grounds and lake proceeded to the main temple are beautiful. If you pay to enter Todaiji’s central courtyard, you’ll have access to the main hall, initially completed in 752, the giant wooden temple houses an enormous Bronze Buddha. At 49 feet tall, The statue is a sight to see in person, and it’s surrounded by smaller, even more intricate statues. The path brings you around the Buddha before exiting.
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