JR Nara Station is one of two main railway stations serving the city of Nara, the other being Kintetsu Nara Station. If you have a Japan Rail Pass then this is the station that you will use when visiting Nara. Though JR Nara Station is not as centrally located as Kintetsu Nara Station, it is still within walking distance of the city’s main attractions and is also very well connected with bus links and taxis.
Fortunately, JR Nara Station is quite compact and easy to navigate, with just five platforms and one set of ticket gates. Despite its small size, the station has plenty of useful amenities and there is also a lot of information available to help you find your way around. In this article we will explain the general layout of the station and introduce some of the useful facilities that are available.
JR Nara Station Layout
JR Nara Station is housed in a three story building. The 1st floor is mostly occupied with the Vierra shopping complex and some restaurants. The station itself is entered on the 2nd floor and the platforms are on the 3rd floor. The station has two exits on its east and west sides, with bus terminals and taxi ranks on both sides. The main exit is the East Exit however, so this is where you will find tourist buses heading toward the town center and Nara Park, and there are more taxis on the east side too.
Inside the 2nd floor station concourse, the ticket gates are located at the southern end of the station building with ticket machines and a ticket office located on the east side of the building beside the ticket gates.
There are departure displays just above the ticket gates which alternate between Japanese and English to show the times and the platforms for departing trains.
Platforms & Lines
There are five platforms at JR Nara Station which serve four different lines.
The Yamatoji Line
Trains running on the Yamatoji Line depart from all platforms. Southbound services for Horyuji, Oji, Tennoji, JR Namba, and Osaka depart from platforms 1, 2, and 3. Northbound services for Kizu, Kamo, Iga-Ueno, and Kameyama depart from platforms 3, 4, and 5.
The JR Nara Line
Trains running on the JR Nara Line which are bound for Uji, Inari, Tofukuji and Kyoto depart from platforms 3, 4, and 5.
The Manyo Mahoroba Line
Trains running on the Manyo Mahoroba Line (also called the Sakurai Line) for Tenri, Miwa, Sakurai, and Wakayama depart from platform 1.
The Gakkentoshi Line
Early morning through services on the Gakkentoshi Line bound for Kyobashi in Osaka depart from platform 4.
JR Nara Station Information & Facilities
There is plenty of information at JR Nara Station to help you find your way around. On the east side of the ticket gates you can find information touch screens which have both detailed maps and timetables and can be operated in English, Chinese, and Korean as well as Japanese.
Information about bus services is available at the Bus Information Center which is on the west side of the 2nd floor station concourse. Staff here can speak English and Chinese and can also give you a free bus route map for the city.
Outside the East Exit you can find the Tourist Information Center. This is housed in the old station building which was built in 1934. Here you will find multilingual staff speaking English, Chinese and Korean who can help you with enquiries.
This center also has a baggage room, a currency exchange machine, a café, restrooms, free Wi-Fi internet access, and plenty of free pamphlets and maps.
Shopping & Restaurants
The 1st floor of the station building and the north end of the 2nd floor is taken up with the Vierra shopping complex. You can find souvenir shops and a bakery café on the 2nd floor, and a supermarket on the 1st floor. Also on the 1st floor are nine different restaurants and cafes which range from fast food diners and noodle bars to an izakaya style casual restaurant and a French bistro.
ATM Cash Machines at Nara Station
There is a convenience store on the west side of the station ticket gates where you can find a Seven Bank ATM.
This ATM has English guidance and accepts most major international bank cards including Visa, Plus, MasterCard, Maestro, Cirrus, UnionPay, American Express, JCB, Discover, and Diners Club International.
On the 2nd floor of the Vierra shopping complex you can also find a JP Bank ATM. This is the bank of the Japan Post Office. This ATM also has English guidance and accepts international bank cards such as VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and JCB.
This station has luggage lockers on both its 1st and 2nd floors. For a complete guide to their location and how to use them please see our article Lockers & Luggage Storage at the Nara Stations.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.