Attraction Naramachi Yamatokoriyama, Nara Prefecture 639-1159 Japan Published on: 29-06-2016
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Why Naramachi is special ?
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 Gangoji Temple. Gangoji 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.
What to explore at Naramachi?
In this area, there are many old houses since the 17th century.
As a historic area in Nara, this area is becoming popular.
Originally, this area was in the site of Gangoji.
Since the middle ages, Gangoji had declined and scaled down. So the town had been formed on the old temple site.
In the new town, various traditional industries such as calligraphy brush, inkstick, sword, sake and so on developed.
The this became the central town of Nara.
The area is about 600 meters from north to south and about 900 meters from east to west.
Gangoji is at the north end of this area.
Narrow streets run and more than s dozen of small temples are dotted.
Most of old wooden houses are "Machiya". It is the traditional architectural style in Kyoto and Nara.
The frontage is narrow but deep. And most of them are two-story or three-story buildings.
After we enter the house, we find a long and straight earth floor like a street. And the rooms are along the earth floor.
Some of the houses have a narrow courtyard.
"Naramachi Koshi-no-ie" located at the south part of this area is a restored Machiya for visitors. We can see the structure of Machiya here.
In the area, there are also some other small museums.
How to get to Naramachi?
Naramachi is located about a 10-15 minute walk to the south of Kintetsu Nara Station. From JR Nara Station, it is about a 20 minute walk to the southeast. Loop bus numbers 5 and 6 serve Kintetsu Nara Station, JR Nara Station and Naramachi.
- Stroll to feel history
- A wonderful piece of old Japan
- Walk In The Past
- Travel back in Time
- A World of People Watching
Naramachi Yamatokoriyama, Nara Prefecture 639-1159 Japan
Tips for you
I discovered this place by accident as I strolled through the Higashimuki Shopping Arcade which is south of the JR Station and the Nikko Nara Hotel where I was staying. I was in for a pleasant surprise. When I exited the arcade, I suddenly got transported back in time. Before me was a machiya neighborhood (traditional Japanese townhouses and shops). It was fun to wander around and check out the different shops which sold all kinds of things from clothing, pottery to used adult magazines!. There's also an interesting local temple dedicated to the Koshin Faith, a homegrown religion that mixes both Chinese and Japanese religious beliefs that developed in Naramachi. It was nice to see this local religion still existing to this day. The front of the temple and its roof are decorated with statues of the three wise monkeys. I highly recommend visiting this place. It provides a glimpse of Japan two hundred years ago.