Stroll in Nara (4) – Naramachi (2)

In the last of this series of Stroll in Nara, I’d like to introduce Naramachi, the most famous part of Nara City, dividing it in two occasions.

Naramachi is located in the southeast part of the city center of Nara City, and has historical towns, in which narrow town streets run lengthwise and breadthwise and many townhouses, built in the Edo, Meiji, Taisho Periods and early Showa Era, line both sides of the streets. Among them, there are shops and cafes, set up in remodeled old houses while utilizing the appearance of the houses. These areas were in the precincts of Gangoji Temple in the past.

A: Higashimuki Shopping Street
B: Mochiido Shopping Street
C: Shimomikado Shopping Street
D: Naramachi Boulevard
E: Gangoji Temple
F: Naramachi Lively House
G: Naramachi Tale House
H: Naramachi Lattice House

Well, let’s go out to explore Naramachi!

(Shopping Street)
The shopping street extending from north to south on the east side of Nara Station on the Kintetsu Railway is called Higashimuki Shopping Street. I went on foot toward the south. While continuing the walking passing through Mochiido Shopping Street, and Shimomikado Shopping Street, I encountered a big street, Naramachi Boulevard. In the sopping streets, there are not only shops with a modern structure but also many shops of old appearance.

  • Mochiido Shopping Street

  • Higashimuki Shopping Street

    Shimomikado Shopping Street

(Gangoji Temple)
Gangoji temple, registered as a World Heritage, stands at a place which can be reached walking southward from Naramachi Oodori. When you enter the temple, you must feel how fresh the air in the precincts is, and feel soothed. When I visited in the hot summer season, clear air hung in the precincts and I found myself relieved and comforted. The remarkable point in this temple is the roof tiles. You can see roof tiles made 1,400 years ago, which are called “ancient roof tiles.”

East Gate of Gangoji Temple

Roof Tiles Made 1,400 years ago

  • Gokuraku Shitsu (Heaven Room)*

    Ancient Roof Tiles (Zen Shitsu on the left and Hain Hall on the right)

    *Gokuraku Shitus is the main temple of Gangoji Temple.

  • Zen Shitsu (Room for Zazen Meditation)

    Ancient Roof Tiles (Zen Shitsu on the left and Hain Hall on the right)

(Naramachi Nigiwai-no-Ie (Naramachi Lively House))
The facility located on the south side is a restored townhouse of an antique art dealer built in 1917, and opened in 2015. The building has a structure having a narrow frontage and a long depth, which is often seen in old Japanese houses. You can see a lifestyle of a shopkeeper in the Taisho Period.

Layout of the House

  • Entrance

    Tatami Parlour


    Stone-Paved Passage

    Round Window, rarely seen in a modern building

  • Old Furniture

    Tatami Parlour


    Nostalgic Tiled Kitchen Sink

(Naramachi Monogatari House (Naramachi Tale House))
Naramachi Tale House, located diagonally opposite Naramachi Lively House, is a repaired townhouse (sake and cigar shop) built in the late Meiji Period. This is a facility managed by a public service corporation while receiving donations from general citizens and enterprises and supported by subsidies (Nara City), and has been active since 1995.

Layout of the House

  • This is a very nostalgic scene of an old Japanese house for me.

The area around the Naramachi Tale House and Naramachi Lively House is the center of Naramachi, and there are many old townhouses. You can see interesting old wooden buildings here and there such as Kikuoka Chinese medicine pharmacy, Yoshida mosquito net shop, Gangoji Temple West Room, and the Konda residence, and must have no time to get tired. A red stuffed toy, hanging on the edge of the eaves of a house in Naramachi, is migawari saru (scapegoat monkey), which receives your misfortune on your behalf.

  • Kikuoka Chinese medicine pharmacy

    Gangoji Temple West Room

    Scapegoat Monkey

  • Yoshida mosquito net shop

    Konda residence

    Masaki residence

(Naramachi Koshi-no-Ie (Naramachi Lattice House))
This building was built referring to townhouses stood in Naramachi at the end of the Edo Period to the Meiji Period as a model. The building has latticework peculiar to Nara, and you can touch the way of life of ancient people who lived in Naramachi.

(Way Back)
When I got out of the Lattice House, the sun went down, and I unhurriedly returned to the station on other roads on which I came from. I also saw old houses on the way to the station, and I quite didn’t get tired. Around Sarusawa-no-ike Pond, I walked along a street that I didn’t know. Many elegant Japanese houses were abundant there too.

  • Fujioka residence

  • Kioku residence

    near Sarusa Pond

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