The road
No travelers pass along
Autumn dusk


Red: Places of Interest    Blue: Eat    Green: Sleep

Naramachi (奈良町, literally “Nara Town”) is the former merchant district of Nara, where several traditional residential buildings and warehouses are preserved and open to the public. Boutiques, shops, cafes, restaurants and a few museums now line the district’s narrow lanes.

Many of Naramachi’s buildings in the Edo Period and earlier were machiya, long, narrow “townhouses” that served both as shops and as the living quarters of the local merchants. The store fronts of machiya were often kept narrow in order to save on taxes, which used to be calculated on a property’s street access rather than its total area. Today, a handful of machiya have been preserved made open to the public as museums.

Before its development into a merchant district around the 15th century, the area that is Naramachi today used to be occupied almost entirely by the once-spacious grounds of Gango-ji Temple. Gango-ji was one of Japan’s most important temples during the Nara Period and has been registered as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Though once a sprawling complex, today, only a couple of temple buildings remain.

Nara Traditional Crafts

Naramachi Minami Tourist Information Center “Shika no fune”

Address: 11 Inoue-cho, Nara city, Nara
Access: 10 mins walk from Kyobate station
Phone: 0742-94-3500
Hours open to visitors: 9:00-17:00 open all year round
Languages: English
Wi-Fi: Available for free
Internet PC: Not Available

Nara is an easy city to get lost in, so be sure to pick up the useful “Naramachi Walking Map” from the Center.

Showcases Nara’s ancient arts and crafts and holds workshops and demonstrations on its second floor on how to make them. On display are ceramics, traditional calligraphy brushes, inks, glassware, statues and masks. High quality brushes, ink and ink stones hark bark to the scribes who toiled away in the offices of what is now the Nara Palace Site way back in the Nara Period. 

Nara Crafts Museum, 1-1 Azemame-cho, Nara
Tel: 0742 27 0033
Hours: 10am-6pm; closed on Monday unless Monday is a public holiday.
Admission: Free

Naramachi Nigiwai-no-ie

Nigiwai-No-Ie was constructed in 1917.  It is a traditional tradesman’s house. You will be interested in the subtleness of the quaint architecture in this house. 

Be sure to visit their website for more informative website.

Sugioka Kason Museum of Calligraphy

Displays the work of Sugioka Kason (1913-2012) who was born in Nara Prefecture and became a famous calligrapher, author and teacher. The museum opened in 2000 and puts on special exhibitions of calligraphy and holds lectures.
Sugioka Kason Museum of Calligraphy
Wakido-cho, Nara, 630-8337
Tel: 0742 24 4111
Hours: 10am-5pm; closed on Monday unless Monday is a public holiday.
Admission: 300 yen

Nara City Museum of Historical Resources 

Next door to the Sugioka Kason Museum of Calligraphy and housed in a restored and preserved machiya merchant town house. The museum displays Edo Period manuscripts and historical documents behind glass panels and hosts special exhibitions on the theme of Nara.
Nara City Museum of Historical Resources
Wakido-cho 1-1, Nara, 630-8337
Tel: 0742 27 0169
Hours: 9.30am-5pm; closed on Monday unless Monday is a public holiday.
Admission: Free

Koshi-no-ie Residence 

A wonderfully preserved machiya complete with kamado stove, an inner garden (naka-niwa), box staircase (hako-kaidan) and skylight (akari-tori). These long, narrow, merchant houses had the shop at the front of the house and the living space in the rear. The slatted, wooden lattice work at the front (koshi) gives the house its present name and allowed the residents to look out without been seen.
Koshi-no-ie Residence
Gangoji-cho 44, Nara, 630-8332
Tel: 0742 23 4820
Hours: 9am-5pm; closed on Monday unless Monday is a public holiday.
Admission: Free

Naramachi Shiryokan 

Has information on the distinctive red and white, cloth, hanging, monkey dolls (migawari-zaru) seen around Naramachi as well as diverse collections of Edo Period signboards from shops, onigawara roof tiles, huge ceramics, Buddhist statues, and quite a lot of other unusual exhibits. No photos are allowed inside. There is a small shop on the premises to buy Naramachi souvenirs.
Naramachi Shiryokan
Nishinoshinya-cho 14-2, Nara, 630-8334
Tel: 0742 22 5509
Hours: 10am-4pm; open daily.
Admission: Free

Imanishike Shoin Traditional House 

First dates from the 15th century (Muromachi Period) and is designated as an Important Cultural Property. The residence once belonged to officials of the town’s governance and includes a Japanese garden, spacious interior with earthen floor and sliding doors and a venue to enjoy Japanese tea plus a traditional accompanying sweet.
Imanishike Shoin Traditional House
3-9-25 Imai-cho, Nara 634-0812
Tel: 0742 25 3388
Hours: 10am-4pm; open April 15-May 15; October 15-November 15.
Admission: 350 yen

Harushika Brewery Shop

Located on the same street as the Imanishike Shoin Traditional House, a little to the east nearer to Fukuchi-in Temple and the main road that runs south from the Nara Hotel. Here you can pay a small fee and then sample a variety of Nara’s famous sake along with traditional Japanse tsukemono pickles pickled in sake lees. The sake tasting lasts about an hour and is conducted by English-speaking guides dressed in happi coats, who explain the different grades of sake and try to answer any questions. You will also receive a small Harushika sake cup as a souvenir and can purchase bottles of sake, pickles and sake-flavored ice-cream wafers at the shop. The sake sampling experience has become very popular among both foreigners and Japanese visiting Nara.

Harushika Brewery Shop
24-1 Fukuchiin-cho, Nara 630-8381
Tel: 0742 23 2255
Hours: 8.15am-5.15pm; closed for Obon in August, New Year and around the 11th of the month.
Admission: Free (small fee for the sake sampling)

The Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum 

Occupies another machiya merchant’s house and is dedicated to karakuri mechanical toys from the Edo Period. Made from wood, bamboo, washi paper and other natural materials, karakuri are toys meant to surprise or trick. These fun toys have been recreated using drawings and documents from the past. Visitors are encouraged to try out the toys during their visit.

Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum
7 Inyo-cho, Nara 630-8338
Tel: 0742 26 5656
Hours: 9am-5pm; closed on Wednesday.
Admission: Free

Hosokawa Residence and Mori Residence 

Are just around the corner from the Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum. The Hosokawa Residence is the older of the two and was built in the early 19th century. The Hosokawa family were prosperous makers of traditional Japanese candles. Next door the Mori Residence dates from 1890 and was initially built by the Hosokawas as a family home. Both houses have the lattice frontages typical of Nara machiya.
Hosokawa & Mori Residences
Minamiiyodo-cho, Nara 630-8338
Tel: 0742 34 5369
Hours: 11am-4pm; Open from 21 March-26 June and 23 September-27 November on weekends and public holidays.
Admission: Free

Eating Out in Naramachi

Naramachi’s narrow streets and historic, wooden buildings offer an atmospheric setting for eating out. Naramachi’s restaurants offer a wide variety of Japanese and foreign cuisine ranging from traditional kaiseki to modern French.

  • Kyo Kozuchi (21 Shimomikado-cho 21; Tel: 0742 22 1440) offers “medicinal food” including locally produced vegetables, red rice and so – a type of skimmed milk from the Nara Period.
  • Poku-Poku (23 Shomani-cho 21; Tel: 0742 31 2537) specializes in tonkatsu – breaded pork – served with rice, vegetables and two types of tea.
  • Across the street, Awa (1 Shomani-cho 21; Tel: 0742 24 5699) presents full-course Japanese meals in a traditional setting.
  • Hiyori (26 Nakanoshinya-cho 21; Tel: 0742 24 1470) has Yamato-style kaiseki dishes with locally-grown vegetables complemented with beef and chicken.
  • Salon de Vins Seve (19-1 Nishiterabayashi-cho; Tel: 0742 25 2233) prides itself on its fine French wines and regional French cuisine.
  • Kanna (19-2 Nishiterabayashi-cho; Tel: 0742 25 2150) is a stylish day-time cafe specializing in beautifully presented Japanese sweets served in three-tiered, lacquered bento boxes with powdered green tea – machya.
  • Kashiya (22-23 Chuin-cho; Tel: 0742 22 8899) is a traditional, tatami-mat cafe known for its hand-made, bean-paste sweets eaten with tea or coffee.
  • Tsuruyoshi (22-1 Wakido-cho; Tel: 0742 26 7798) is well-known for its delicious kaiseki meals featuring beautifully-presented seafood.
  • Friponne (22-1 Wakido-cho; Tel: 0742 27 8622) offers French food with an Okinawan twist including gourds, yams and sea grapes (umibudo).