Nara Prefecture (奈良県 Nara-ken) is in the western Kansai region of the main Japanese island Honshu.
Nara has a creditable claim to be the home of Japan's Imperial family, and the prefecture houses no fewer than three ancient capitals: Asuka (538-694), Fujiwara (694-710) and Nara (710-784). The plain around Nara is scattered with grand temples and imperial burial sites known as kofun.
- 1 Nara — Japan's capital before Kyoto, with temples and shrines laid out in a vast park
- 2 Kashihara — the site of Japan's capital city, Fujiwarakyo (藤原京), before Nara.
- 3 Yoshino (吉野) — the mountain area which comprises a part of another UNESCO World Heritage, and Japan's most famous cherry blossom viewing spots
- 4 Tenkawa
- 5 Totsukawa
- 6 Tenri
- 1 Asuka (飛鳥) — the homeground of Japan's earliest historical capital city, Asukakyo (飛鳥京)
- 2 Horyuji (法隆寺) — Ancient temples named as UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Ikaruga (斑鳩) Town
- 3 Imai (今井町) — a preserved district of old merchant houses from Edo period in Kashihara
- 4 Yamazoe
- 5 Uda
Nara Prefecture is accessible by both JR Railways and Kintetsu Railways.
From Osaka take the e JR Yamatoji Line Local towards Nara. It takes 50-60 minutes. If you are near Tsuruhashi Station, it's cheaper to take the Kintetsu Line to Kintetsu Nara Station. From Kyoto, the difference between Kintetsu and JR is not so great, but JR is generally slightly faster while Kintetsu is cheaper. Kintetsu has some direct trains, but in general a transfer is required at Yamato-Saidaiji Station for Nara City.
Outside the capital, Kintetsu Railways provides much greater access to the prefecture than JR. Many places, such as Yoshino, Asuka, and Sakurai are only accessible via Kintetsu Railway.
Kintetsu Railway is also the best way to get into Nara Prefecture from Wakayama Prefecture and Mie Prefecture.