Nara is reachable by JR train from Osaka (about 45 minutes) or Kyoto (about 35 minutes).
From Osaka, take the Osaka Nara Line on tack 1.
From Kyoto, take the JR Nara Line.
It sounds simple but it's not... here's my travel log:
25/11/06 8:23 am Notes
Train from Himeji to shin Osaka
25/11/06 10:20 am Notes
Trying to get to Nara from shin Osaka
The staff in JR ticket counter suggested some route that involved several switch in some station on some foreign planets...
After taking a couple of wrong trains, I finally decided to head to Osaka, from where a train goes directly to Nara.
The Osaka train station was quite confusing, many people, liked myself, stared at the route map, trying to decide the route to their destination. Many, I suspected from their outfit, had been glaring at the route map since the Edo era, and yet they still haven't figure a way out...
So it seems I could take the Yamato ji line at 10:25am, which goes directly to Nara.
It is not because there isn't enough signs, there are many, big and clear. But there are simply too many trains, too many choices is not a good thing