Stroll in Nara (5) – Naramachi (2)

The last time, I introduced you to public facilities and the center of Naramachi, and this time, I visited hotels and private residences located at the west part of Naramachi.

(1) Sanjyo-dori Street
(2) Sarusawa-no-Ike Pond
(3) Nara Hotel
(4) Garden of the Former Daijyo-In Temple
(5) Imanishi Shoin
(6) Naramachi Kobo (Naramachi Workshop)

(Sanjyo-dori Street)
Walking from Nara Station, on the Kintetsu Railway, south on the Higashimuki Shopping Street, and then turning to the east and walking east on the Sanjyo-dori Street for awhile, you will see Kofukuji Temple on the left and Sarusawa Pond on the right.

  • Stores on Sanjyo-dori

    Road Leading to Kofukuji Temple

  • Five-storied Pagoda in Kofukuji Temple

(From Sarusawa Pond to Nara Hotel)
I walked along the west side of the pond and then south. This is a fun walkway where you can see shops having a nostalgic or foreign appearance, Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, luxurious residences, old private house, and old townhouses renovated and covered into inns. In addition, you can sometimes see the five-storied pagoda of Kofukuji Temple while walking through the town.

  • Five-storied Pagoda seen from across Sarusawa Pond

  • Nanendo Hall seen from across Sarusawa Pond

(Nara Hotel and Garden of the Former Daijyo-In Temple)
Nara Hotel is a long-established hotel founded in 1909, where state guests and members of royalty stay. I haven’t stayed but have visited their restaurant a few times. We utilize it for a special celebration.
Garden of the Former Daijyo-In Temple is a Japanese garden located south from Nara Hotel. The temple itself was abandoned at the beginning of the Meiji Period, and only the garden remains. The wall in front of the garden is a reconstructed mud wall of a row house where players of Japanese court music lived and is made thick to prevent sound leakage.

  • Main Entrance of Nara Hotel

    Interior of Hotel

    East Big Pond in the Garden

    Old Mud Wall in the Garden

  • Appearance of Hotel

    Interior of Hotel

    West Big Pond in the Garden

    Reconstructed Mud Wall

(Imanishi Shoin and Harushika)
Imanishi Seibei Store (Harushika Sake Brewery) and Imanisi Shoin stand side by side on the south side of the garden of the Former Daijyo-In Temple.
The Imanishi family started sake production in 1884. Their sake, named Harushika, is not only sold throughout Japan but also is exported to 10 or more foreign countries.
Imanishi Shoin, next the store, is a building registered as an important cultural property, and established in the middle of the Muromachi Period (1336-1573). It has many characteristics of the traditional style of early Japanese residential architecture (shoin-zukuri*).
*From Wiki: Shoin-zukuri is a style of Japanese residential architecture used in the mansions of the military, temple guest halls, and Zen abbot’s quarters of the Muromachi (1336-1573), Azuchi–Momoyama (1568–1600) and Edo periods (1600–1868). It forms the basis of today’s traditional-style Japanese house. Characteristics of the shoin-zukuri development were the incorporation of square posts and floors completely covered with tatami. The style takes its name from the shoin, a term that originally meant a study and a place for lectures on the sūtra within a temple, but which later came to mean just a drawing room or study.
The entrance gate of this house is a nagayamon gate which has two row rooms on both sides of the entrance. The most important area of this building is the shoin room in which guests are entertained. The floor height of this room is the highest among those of other rooms in this house, showing the status of the room. You can see architectural parts, which were used for only noble people and are not used in our time, such as an entrance having a kara hafu (bow-shaped or undulating) cypress bark roof, or a shitomido door (latticed shutter). In addition, this house has ceilings of various pattern or materials; for example, a wickerwork ceiling made of splints (thin strips) of cedar trees, a ceiling made of soot-colored bamboo, which was used for rooms having a Japanese hearth, a ship’s bottom-shaped ceiling having an effect to make persons feel the room is larger. The house further has a tea room and you can enjoy a tea time there.

  • Imanishi Sake Shop

    Nagayamon Gate in Imanishi Shoin

    Shoin Room

    Bow-Shaped Cypress Bark Roof

    Ship’s Bottom-Shaped Ceiling

    Tea Room

  • Front Yard

    Latticed Shutter

    Wickerwork Ceiling

    Ceiling of Soot-Colored Bamboo

(Naramachi Workshop)
Naramachi Workshop is a composite facility of restored townhouses built in the Meiji Era, Taisho Era, or early Showa Era, in which the workshops and stores of artists having scintillating personality are gathered. The facility has 3 wings of I to III, and you can see many stores of various genres including handmade sundries, accessories, Asian sundries, and cafés.

(Way Back)
I decided to go home because the sun began to set. Naramachi is an old town and so has narrow alleys; accordingly there are some cases in which I lost my way and I rush when I have some purpose, but it is a very pleasant town. For example, if you want to go for a ramble just as you please, you’ll get new findings.

I have introduced you to the Nara City urban areas in 5 times, and what do you think about the areas? It is of course interesting to visit Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, but it is also enjoyable to stroll through the town streets in Nara. If you have time, please wander about aimlessly in Nara.

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