Let’s talk about animal cities in Japan. The two most popular would be Nara and Okunoshima (Bunny Island.) However for those wanting to see what other places you can venture off too, click here.
I’m all for seeing animals if it’s for conservation or it’s a sanctuary. Animal Cafe’s are pretty popular in Tokyo, but make sure you’re contributing to well run venues who care for the animal welfare over anything. If you must see a café – take a look at listed ones that are recommended here which are
Preferably, go to where the animals are wild and can walk around freely such as Nara, Okunoshima and Miyajima
So, here’s how to spend your time in Nara or Okunoshima.
Getting to Nara: From Tokyo.
If you’re coming from Tokyo, you’ll have to go through Kyoto. It’s doable as a day trip if you really want to check out Nara, but often best to add it to a day with the iconic Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine as it’s on the same line.
|🚄 The Bullet Train:
2h 30m ¥10000 – ¥15000 |
AUD: $110 – $170 | USD: $89 – $137
Included in the JR PASS. The Bullet Trains are beyond anything! They will cut your time more than in half. They have toilets, reclining seats, food carts and if you’re a smoker – a smokers room on board as well.
Don’t have a JR PASS? Get discounted tickets for the Kodama (4hrs) train here.
8h 45m ¥8000 |
AUD $91 | USD $73
Willer Bus has high reviews and you can opt for a day or night bus.
(Read a detailed blog post here) and in terms of value/money, you can also save a night on accommodation.
Getting to Nara: From Kyoto.
1 h 15 min
¥650 – ¥1000 | $8.00 – $13.00 AUD
Take the JR Nara Line to Nara Station. Included in the JR PASS.
0:44 min ¥500 – ¥600 | $6.00 – $8.00
Take the Kintetsu Line to Kintetsu Nara Station. This is located in a different section of Nara, however, is a good start off if you wish to start off with Kōfuku-ji.
If you want to take this line, be aware I believe it has on peak + off peak.
Getting Around in Nara
Nara isn’t a very big place if you’re wanting to see mostly the tourist sites so it’s super accessible just by walking!
If you’ve been dropped at the JR Nara Station, or you’re wanting to go to some sites a bit further out then you might feel like taking a bus.
1D BUS PASS
¥1000 | AUD $11 | USD $9
Getting to Okunoshima:
It is recommended to go to Bunny Island via Osaka or Hiroshima. Apart from the Ferry, it’s all-inclusive with the JR Pass.
🚄 The Bullet Train: 2h 25m
Take the Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Mihara Station. 2h 25m
🚄 The Bullet Train: 25m
Take the Shinkansen from Hiroshima Station to Mihara Station
From Mihara Station:
🚃 Train 22m
Take the JR LINE to Tadanoumi Station.
🚶🏼♀️ Walk 10m
Walk out of Tadanoumi Station towards the right and follow the road until you see a bridge and take the bend right until you see the Ferry office.
Tickets for the Ferry are ¥310 one way. They depart every 20-30 minutes and the last one returns at around 4:30.
The whole Island is surrounded by these little cuties. They’ll come up to you if you’ve got food but once they realise you don’t? they’ll leave you alone. There is a Poison Gas Museum that I’d suggest going to which gives you an overview in English of what went on there.
WHAT I DID
I essentially did what was written above. Before heading to Nara, I checked out temples in Kyoto in the morning so we didn’t really have a lot of time to see anything other than the deer. I would suggest seeing Buddha Temple in Nara because last time I was there, it was exceptional.
We launched the drone on Bunny Island and had some eagles try to swoop down at it, which was both amazing and terrifying. We ate some ‘fried potatoes’ at the restaurant which [not] surprisingly, was just hot chips.
I would suggest however NOT going back to Tokyo after Bunny Island because that DID take a long time.
We left out luggage at Mihara Station for this. Osaka would have been fine, but it was a long ride back.
Have you been to Nara or Bunny Island? What did you think?