Here are some recommended cafes and places to visit if you are planning to visit Naramachi.
Naramachi is an area of tasteful townhouses with a relaxed atmosphere, perfect for those who don’t like crowds. Here are some suggestions on how to enjoy a leisurely day of strolling.
Nara Prefecture is one of Japan’s most famous tourist destinations, and is known as the ancient capital of Japan.
Walking around the famous sights, there are many international tourists, it’s really crowded on weekends.
But there are other things to do in Nara that are not limited to visiting famous tourist spots.
That is walking in Naramachi (Nara Town).
Naramachi is good for those who…
I love old townhouses.
I’m interested in making fine craftsmanship.
I need to go to a cafe where I can relax.
I don’t like crowded places.
So, I would like to suggest a fun way to spend a day exploring Naramachi.
If you are tired of sightseeing in Nara, or if you just want to spend a relaxing holiday in a quiet place, I recommend you to visit these spots!
What is Naramachi?
What does “Naramachi” mean, anyway?
According to the Nara City website, Naramachi is designated as below.
Naramachi is currently divided into three areas:
“Nara Kitamachi” in the north, “Naramachi” in the south, and the area around Kyobate station, which is bordered by Route 369.
The area surrounding Kyobate station is the “Naramachi” area.
The area I’ll introduce is the central area of Naramachi.
This is the area after passing through the busy “Mochiidono Center Street” and crossing the main street.
The area south of this area becomes quieter and less touristy as you go further south.
Experience a Traditional Townhouse in Nara!
A must-see feature of Naramachi is the row of townhouses(machiya).
Some of the oldest houses were built in the Edo period and have “registered tangible cultural property” plates here and there.
Let’s experience such machiya and Japanese traditional games in Naramachi!
Enjoying a Machiya at Naramachi Nigiwai-no-ie
The Naramachi Nigiwai no Ie is a townhouse built over 100 years ago and is open for tours.
This house is also registered as a National Tangible Cultural Property.
Seasonal events and Japanese culture workshops are frequently held here, and more than 100,000 people visit the house every year!
It’s very popular.
There are various types of townhouses in Nara, depending on the layout of the house, and this one is called Omoteya-zukuri.
This not only adds to the atmosphere of the house, but also serves the purpose of privacy and crime prevention by preventing people to see the inside from the outside.
From inside the lattice, you can see the outside clearly, and with good ventilation and lighting, it also ensures a comfortable living environment.
Stepping inside, you’ll find a spectacular view of the 5 Japanese-style rooms that stretch all the way to the courtyard.
In the innermost tatami room, there’s a buddha room protruding from the tatami room
And you can see the opulence of the house from the size and decorations.
The ceiling of the room is filled with beautiful paintings, so please go inside the room and look up.
When you pass through the Japanese-style room, you will see a courtyard in front of you.
The courtyard is colored with seasonal plants and has an air of beauty that makes you want to just stare at it.
Further in, there’s a tatami room and a storehouse that’s believed to have been built in the Edo period.
Just looking around the house and seeing the kamado, which is used to cook rice, is a rare and exciting experience.
This kamado is still used for events.
They hold about 150 events a year, so you should check their website before you go to see what’s going on.
I had an image that a tour of a townhouse is only for people who are interested in architecture, but at Naramachi Nigiwai no Ie, you don’t need to know anything about the building to enjoy it because the details of the building are so interesting.
For example, The pull of the bran is designed as a Japanese ginger…
There are painting directly on the doors and…
Even though I don’t have any architectural knowledge, I enjoyed just looking at the attention to detail that was sprinkled throughout the house.
The townhouse itself is a relaxing space, so it seems like a great place to spend time without thinking about anything else.
If you come to Naramachi, drop in and enjoy your time there in your own way.
Naramachi Nigiwai no Ie(House)
Location: 5 Nakashinya-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture
Phone number: 0742-20-1917
Opening Hours: 9:00-17:00
Closed: Wednesdays *As for national holidays, please contact in advance as the opening and closing days change.
Adults Are Going Crazy! Naramachi Mechanical Toy Museum
Naramachi Mechanical Toy Museum, a 3-minute walk from Naramachi Nigiwai no Ie, suddenly appears in a quiet residential area.
Visitors can play freely with restored toys from the Edo period.
There are tables lined up in a Japanese-style room, with toys lined up on top.
There are 200 toys in all
And 20 to 30 toys are exhibited while being replaced little by little once every two months.
All of the toys are made of natural materials such as bamboo, wood and Japanese paper.
Even though the toys were restored from the Edo period, they are said to be flexible, strong and long-lasting.
I’ve tried a few oddly shaped kendama, and I’ve tried many times…
An old-fashioned board game, “I don’t want to lose!
And I seriously fought with it…
To be honest, I didn’t expect adults to get so involved in the game.
Naramachi Mechanical Toy Museum is not to be underestimated!
There are staff members in the museum, so if you don’t know how to play with them, feel free to ask them to teach you.
The staff also showed me some shadow puppet toys, which made me feel like I was playing with staff.
When I looked at the shadows, I felt like a cat…?
It was someone dressed like this who was shadowing the cat!
You can enjoy this facility with children in the upper grades of elementary school, adults, and even tourists from abroad.
It’s a townhouse, so you can play here as if you were visiting your grandmother’s house.
I spent at least an hour playing here.
I want to go back to play every time they change the toys. (Seriously.)
Naramachi Mechanical Toy Museum
Location: 7 Yingyang-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture
Phone number: 0742-26-5656
Opening hours: 9:00-17:00
Closed: Wednesdays, Year-end and New Year’s holidays (December 29 to January 3) *National holidays are subject to change, so please inquire in advance.
Get a Feel for Naramachi’s Distinctive Craftsmanship
In Naramachi, craftsmanship, such as the making of traditional handicrafts and craft beer brewing, are also popular.
It’s interesting to walk around the town and feel the passionate craftsmanship, so please include it in your sightseeing plan.
Experiencing Traditional Crafts at Tanaka, Nara Fude(Brush)
Did you know that brushes used in calligraphy were originally from Nara, Japan?
In the 9th century, brush making was introduced from China to Nara, and from there brush making spread throughout the country.
In Naramachi, there is a place where you can experience making Nara’s traditional brushes.
That is “Nara Fude Tanaka“.
There are two courses of hands-on experience, and this time I tried the shorter course.
1,600 yen (tax included)
Before the experience, you will be briefed on how the brushes are made and the parts they use.
It is surprising that there are so many different types of brush bristles alone.
In this hands-on course, the brush shaft and tip of the brush are already assembled, and then the tip of the brush is shaped.
First, the bristles are coated with a thick glue called Funori, and then…
Once it’s thoroughly contained, remove the glue by hand.
The next step is to shape the hair with a comb, but be careful not to comb too hard or the hair will fall out.
If you just comb it out, the hairs will spread out, so you wrap the thread around the tip of the comb to further reshape the hair.
You need to repeat this process several times to get the hair to come together nicely, but it takes some effort to get the hang of it…
When it is finally neatly put together, the brush is capped and completed.
The cap is to prevent the brush from falling apart when you take it home, so take it off when you get home and let the brush dry.
Whether you are a calligrapher or not, why don’t you try your hand at this traditional Nara craft?
And you get to take the brushes you made home with you, which is a great memory!
I recommend Yoshida Mosquito Net dishcloth as a souvenir
Nara Fude, Tanaka
Location: 6 Konodo-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture
Phone number: 090-8483-4018
Closed: No regular holidays (reservations required for experience)
Drinking Craft Beer at Naramachi Brewery
Nara is known for its sake production, but there is also a craft beer brewery in Naramachi.
That is the Naramachi Brewery in Naramachi.
It was the first beer brewery to open in Nara City.
The owner, who loves beer, had the opportunity to open his shop in Naramachi.
You can see beer barrels inside the simple, stylish, wood-based shop.
One of the most popular beers here is the robustly flavored craft beer “Naramachi Ale”.
They also have a fruit beer made with seasonal fruits that is easy to drink, even for those who don’t like beer.
I don’t normally drink beer (I’m not much of a beer drinker), but I decided to try the Naramachi Ale and a winter-only beer called Yuzu Honey.
Yuzu Honey (left) and Naramachi Ale (right): 960 yen (tax included) and 480ml each
If you look at the two beers side by side, you’ll notice a huge difference in color.
The darker one is “Naramachi Ale”.
Gently sipping the beer…
It’s nothing like any beer I’ve ever had!
The “Naramachi Ale” had a robust flavor, while the “Yuzu Honey” was fruity and sour and easy to drink.
To be honest, I thought I wouldn’t be able to drink the Naramachi Ale, but it was totally acceptable.
I’m rather addicted to it…!
I no longer have a weakness for beer.
You can also have Nara’s famous Kakinoha Sushi to go with your beer.
Warmed by the warmth of the tender meat and gentle flavor…!
They open at 11:30 a.m
So you can have a good craft beer in the middle of the day…
What could be more luxurious than this?
It’s a quiet area of Naramachi where you can relax.
There are many female customers, so it’s safe to go for a drink with just women.
Try the freshly brewed, flavorful craft beer in Naramachi.
Location: 956-2 Kidera-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture
Phone number: 0742-95-9700
Business hours: 11:30-20:00
Relax in a Townhouse and Enjoy Deer Sweets!
Nara is famous for its deer, isn’t it?
So, in the Naramachi area, there are many deer-themed sweets that you can try on the spot or take home as a souvenir.
You can eat them on the spot or buy them as a souvenir to take home.
Here are some of the sweets and a cafe where you can relax and enjoy them.
Happy Sweets “Archaic” for Deer Candy
Speaking of deer sweets, this is the place to be! You can’t miss “Archaic“.
A stylish French-style shop appears on the street lined with Japanese townhouses.
The shop has a unified, retro atmosphere.
The most popular item here is the “Nara Shika-san Muffin“(400 yen).
It’s a muffin with a little bit of deer cookie on top.
Recently, a seated deer version of the muffin has become available as a precaution against the risk of the deer cookie breaking on the way home.
I bought the most popular sweet and soy bean and kinako-flavored muffins and enjoy them on the terrace at the entrance of the store.
This restaurant is basically a take-out shop, but you can eat the muffins and cake inside.
They also sell coffee, so you can relax even more if you have it with your cake.
Aside from muffins, they also offer other specialties such as “Nara’s Shika-san Sable” and…
There are a lot of Nara-style sweets such as the “Big Buddha Cookies”.
Of course, there are many other desserts other than the deer and Buddha motifs.
The cute icing cookies are designed to tickle your girl’s heart.
You can also buy deer goods and sundries, so if you are a deer lover, this is the place for you!
Not only tourists but also locals often buy “Nara’s Shika-san Muffins”, so if you want to buy them, we recommend you go early!
Location: 44-1, Fukuchiin-cho, Nara City
Phone number: 0742-24-7007
Opening hours: 10:30-18:00
Relaxing Lunch & Cafe Time at Yotsuba Cafe
There are many small, secluded cafes in the Naramachi area.
It’s a great area for café lovers because you can find a great atmosphere just walking around.
One of the most popular is Yotsuba Cafe.
The interior of the cafe is filled with a retro feel that makes you feel like you’re at home.
The store is filled with dolls and books, and it looks like it would be fun to come with children.
The store also has a sundries corner with cute items that match the atmosphere of the store.
I decided to order the cheese chicken curry from the lunch menu.
The curry is not too spicy, but it has an addictive tomato flavor.
You can’t stop gobbling up your spoonful of food.
For the set, I chose the “Shikano otoshimono(Deer’s Dropping)” pudding.
The black sweetened soybean s in the shape of a deer’s dropping is naturally sweet and delicious. (It has nothing to do with the real dropping…!)
The pudding is also very smooth and easy to eat.
Caramel Mikan Parfait 550 yen (tax included)
The popular caramel mandarin parfait is a nice touch, with light ice cream and a savory caramel sauce that is not too sweet.
It was very cold that day, but I was warmed up by a heater placed behind my seat.
When you get tired of walking around Naramachi, why don’t you take a break at Yotsuba Cafe?
Location: 954 Kiji-cho, Nara City
Phone number: 0742-26-8834
Opening hours: 11:00-19:00 (L.O. 18:00) for the cafe, 11:00-18:00 for the sundries shop/gallery on the 2nd floor
Closed: Wednesday (if it is a national holiday, the cafe will be open on Wednesday)
If you want to relax and enjoy Nara, visit Naramachi
On weekends, the area around Nara Park is crowded with tourists, and it’s still a bit tiring.
There are famous shrines and temples and lots of deer in the park.
But that’s not the only attraction of Nara.
Naramachi, an area not often visited by tourists, is within walking distance from the station and has beautiful scenery and many shops.
This is where you can feel the good old culture of Nara and the commitment of the people who live in the town.
If you haven’t been to Naramachi yet, please visit there at least once, or if you have been there before, please come back again to discover something new.