5 Must-See Places in Naramachi: Culture Experiences, Established Wagashi Stores, Nara Cuisine, and More!
Naramachi is an area in Nara City with historic machiya-style houses that are still standing. It is a popular destination for tourists to stroll around in and admire the historic buildings and scenic views. This article introduces five recommended spots not to miss if you are in Naramachi.
What is Naramachi?
Naramachi is an area centered on the old grounds of the World Heritage Site Gangoji Temple. It is an historic town with "machiya" houses (houses for merchants or artisans that doubled as storefronts) built during the Edo (1603-1868) and Meiji (1868-1912) periods. With stylish shops selling miscellaneous items and cafes, it is a great area to stroll around in, and you can fully enjoy the area in 3 to 4 hours. It is close to Todaiji Temple, a popular Nara tourist destination, so you can take both places in together.
Access: Approx. 10-minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station, 20-minute walk from JR Nara Station
1. Naramachi Mechanical Toy Museum
The Naramachi Mechanical Toy Museum is a place to play with traditional toys. It is an experiential museum, where both adults and children can get lost in the world of play. You can interact with people of all ages while handling traditional toys unique to Japan, made with natural ingredients such as washi (Japanese paper), bamboo, and wood. With these playthings that are packed with the wisdom of people of the past, this is a great place to feel the appeal of toys and experience Japanese culture.
2. Naramachi Koshi-no-Ie
The Naramachi Koshi-no-Ie recreates a machiya-style house that has long defined the townscape of Naramachi. Koshi are latticework made by criss-crossing thin strips of wood into grids with gaps between them. They were adopted into traditional Japanese architecture as a way to manage sunlight and wind. They can also act as blinds for privacy. At this house, you can get a glimpse into how people lived in the past while experiencing historic architecture.
3. Naramachi Nigiwai-no-Ie
Naramachi Nigiwai-no-Ie is a machiya-style house that was built about a century ago. It is said to have been the residence of a merchant family. The rooms are decorated under the theme of the "four seasons", so visitors can feel the charms of each season. The expressions of the house change depending on the time of the year. There are also hands-on activities, through which visitors can get a feel for the way people lived in the past. There are opportunities to have invaluable experiences, such as making rice using a kamado, a traditional hearth for making rice.
4. Nakanishi Yosaburo
Nakanishi Yosaburo is a famous wagashi (Japanese sweet) store that was founded a century ago. It is a place to enjoy quality wagashi made by veteran artisans, including jonamagashi (a traditional fresh sweet with a long history), dango (sweet dumplings), and warabi-mochi (jelly-like confections). A particularly popular item is the Yamato-cha Kintoki (830 JPY + 180 JPY for the topping (excl. tax)), a green-tea shaved ice with azuki (red beans) topped with Naramachi dango. The aromatic matcha (green tea) goes perfectly with the ice that melts gently in the mouth, creating a simple and delicate flavor. The Naramachi dango add a wonderful accent. This is a great place to take a break while savoring some delectable wagashi.
5. Awa Naramachi Branch
Awa Naramachi Branch is a restaurant where you can enjoy fantastic food made with local ingredients from Nara Prefecture. The restaurant is in a renovated 140-year-old house and has a lovely atmosphere. You can enjoy the Awa Naramachi Branch Full Lunch Course (5,000 JPY (excl. tax)) of dishes made with Japanese vegetables and beef from Nara. There is also a selection of other courses to choose from as well, so why not stop by for lunch?
What do you think? Be sure to refer to this article if you decide to visit Naramachi!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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