Kintetsu Nara Station is one of two main railway stations serving the city of Nara, the other being JR Nara Station. Kintetsu Nara Station is actually a little more popular than JR Nara Station, and though it isn’t such a big station it does get very busy. This is partly because it is very close to Nara’s main tourist area and partly because Kintetsu has very regular, fast, and economically priced rail services. However, Kintetsu is a private railway company, so if you are traveling with a Japan Rail Pass you should use JR Nara Station. If you don’t have a Japan Rail Pass, then you may find Kintetsu Nara Station more convenient.
Kintetsu Nara Station Location & Layout
The Kintetsu Nara Station building is located a short distance to the west of Kofuku-ji Temple and Nara Park and most of the other main tourist locations in Nara are within easy walking distance of this station. Though the station building is quite large, the station itself only occupies the two basement levels. Ticket offices, ticket machines and ticket gates are all on the B1 first basement level, and the platforms and tracks are all on the B2 second basement level.
The station building can be accessed from east and west exits on its 1st floor level, but there are also stairwells that lead directly from the street to the basement level. On the upper floors of the station building there are some restaurants, shops, and offices, but generally you don’t need to use the upper part of the building when you use this station.
For information about city buses and tourist buses visit the Kintetsu Nara Bus Information Center which is on the 1st floor of Nara Line House directly across the street from the station.
City bus stops are located on the street outside the station with the tourist buses on the west side. There is also a taxi rank on the west side of the building.
On the east side of the building there is a pleasant plaza with a fountain and a statue of Gyoki; a monk who lived from 668–749 and who is famous for his public works and as Japan’s first map-maker.
B1 Level – Tickets & Ticket Gates
The station itself can be accessed from the B1 first basement level. There are ticket gates on both the east and west sides of the station. The area outside the West Gates is fairly small, and you can find ticket machines here, but no ticket offices.
The area outside the East Gates is more spacious. There are both ticket machines and ticket offices here where you can also ask for travel information.
Outside the ticket gates there is a narrow passageway linking the east and west sides of the station. This passageway is lined with souvenir shops on one side and lockers on the other.
B2 Level – Platforms & Lines
Once through the ticket gates you will find two information screens with departures listed for the Kintetsu Nara Line on screen A and for the Kintetsu Kyoto Line on screen B. There are just four platforms at Kintetsu Nara Station, but it is a good idea to check these screens before you go down to the B2 level platforms.
Kintetsu Nara Line Departures
Trains that run on the Kintetsu Nara Line usually depart from platforms 1, 2, and 3. These trains are bound for Yamato-Saidaiji Station and Osaka-Namba station. Beyond that there are also through train services for Amagasaki Station and Kobe-Sannomiya Station. Express services bound for Osaka-Namba usually depart from platforms 1 and 2, but this is not always the case, so be sure to check the A screen before you go down to your platform.
Kintetsu Kyoto Line Departures
Through train Express and Limited Express services bound for Kyoto usually depart from platforms 3 and 4. However, if there isn’t a through train service available you can take the Kintetsu Nara Line to Yamato-Saidaiji Station and transfer to the Kintetsu Kyoto Line there. It is always a good idea to check the A and B departures screens before going down to your platform.
Information & Facilities
For information about Kintetsu Railways ask at the ticket office counter on the B1 level. For tourist information you actually have two choices. Kintetsu Nara Station is unusual in that it has two competing Tourist Information Offices. The first one is on the 1st floor of the Kintetsu Nara Station building.
This office has multilingual staff who can help you with enquiries. They also have free maps and pamphlets, free Wi-Fi, and a currency exchange machine.
Outside the east exit of the station and above the Lawson convenience store you can find another rival Tourist Information Center operated by the HIS travel agency. Staff here can help with hotel and tour reservations, sell bus or rail passes, sell sim cards for smart phones, and provide rental pocket Wi-Fi for 700 yen a day. Currency exchange and baggage storage is also available here.
Shopping & Restaurants
Just outside the East Ticket Gates and along the passage that runs between the East and West Gates is the Times Place shopping mall. There are a lot of souvenir shops here. Look out for the Kakinoha-zushi shop which sells sushi wrapped in persimmon leaves – a typical Nara delicacy.
You can find a café and a small standing bar on the B1 basement level of the station building outside the East Ticket Gates. There is also a noodle shop on the 1st floor and a Chinese restaurant on the 8th floor of the building. The entrance to the Higashimuki shopping arcade which has a great variety of shops and restaurants is just outside the station’s east exit.
ATMs at Kintetsu Nara Station
There are ATM cash machines in the B1 basement level of the station building just outside the West Ticket Gates. Here you can find JP Bank and Seven-Bank ATM machines which both accept most major international bank cards and have English guidance.
This station has many luggage lockers in the B1 basement level. You can find the lockers on the west side of the station building’s B1 basement level and also in the passageway between the ticket gates. You can also store luggage for one day at the H.I.S. Tourist Information Center at a cost of 540 yen per item. For more details about luggage storage in Nara and how to use station lockers, please see our article Lockers & Luggage Storage at the Nara Stations.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.