We were in Naramachi sometime back…
Switching trains here, our journey began…
Naramachi is the area to the south of Kofukuji and Sarusawa Pond, and Gangoji temple included.
In this area, there are many old houses since the 17th century.
Here we are, Naramachi!
As a historic area in Nara, this area is becoming popular.
Cooking my Okonomiyaki on an iron grill.
Originally, this area was in the site of the former Gangoji temple.
But ever since the middle ages, Gangoji had declined and scaled down. 
Subsequently, the town has since been formed on the old temple site.
Turtles on a rock
In the new town, various traditional industries such as calligraphy brush, ink-stick, sword, sake and so on developed.
Thus, this became the central town of Nara.
Mmmm… What am I having today?
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.
Cramped alleys & narrow streets in Nara
Narrow streets run and more than a dozen of small temples dotted the area.
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-storied buildings.
After entering the house, you’ll find a long and straight earth floor like a street. 
The rooms are situated along the grounds.
Sarusawa Pond
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.
(Nara Town)
Naramachi is an old small town in Nara
Naramachi – literally means “Nara Town”. 
Naramachi is the former merchant district of Nara, where several traditional residential buildings and warehouses have been preserved.
Boutiques, shops, cafes, restaurants and a few museums now line the district’s narrow lanes. 
Shops like this bring about a sense of nostaglia
Many of the buildings in the Naramachi district were machiya, long, narrow “townhouses” that served both as the shops and the living quarters of the local merchants. 
The machiya’s front was kept narrow in order to save on taxes, which used to be calculated on a property’s street access rather than its total area. A few of the preserved machiya are open to the public.
Before the 15th century, the spacious grounds of Gangoji Temple occupied the area that is Naramachi today. 
The area which was once the precincts of Gango-ji Temple is now called Nara-machi, and still preserves the atmosphere of an ancient town.
Gangoji was one of Japan’s most important temples during the Nara Period and has been dedicated a Unesco World Heritage Site. Only a couple of buildings of the temple remain today.
A town was rapidly built within the precincts of the temple that had been burned down, and it developed as the commercial and industrial center of Yamato Province – currently “Nara Prefecture”. 
The streets of Nara-machi feature white stucco walls and wooden lattice windows providing visitors with a warm impression of daily town life. 
This area, with its laid-back and modern shops and cafes renovated from old town houses, is extremely popular, offering visitors the chance to see another aspect of Nara that is different from that of an old city.
Sarusawa no Ike 
猿沢 の 池
(Sarusawa Pond) 
Sawusawa no Ike
Just south of Kofukuji Temple, there is a small pond, 360 meters around. The view of the pond with willow trees around it and the five-story pagoda of Kofukuji Temple reflected in it is very beautiful. 
In fact, it is this picture that is often used to represent Nara.
These guys here were sunbathing on a log!!
The pond was originally a part of Kofukuji and was called Hojo-ike. Hojo-ike means, “set living things free pond”. People believed that setting living things free helped them accumulate merit for themselves or their departed relatives. They bought fish from fishmongers and set them free in the pond. 
Even today, there are many carp and turtles in the pond.
There is a sad story associated with this pond. 
An uneme – “waiting maid” of the Heijokyo court became despondent about having lost the emperor’s favor and threw herself into this pond. 
Today, a stone monument on the eastern bank is said to mark the location of the willow tree where she hung her clothes before her suicide.
This is the “set living things free” pond of Naramachi
Uneme Shrine was established for the repose the uneme’s soul at the northwest corner of the pond. According to tradition, the shrine was originally built facing the pond. However the main building could not bear to face the pond, and immediately turned around. 
Today, the shrine faces away from the pond. Uneme Festival is held at this shrine on the night of mid-autumn.
Koshi-no-Ie Residence (Naramachi Lattic House)
Koshi-no-Ie Residence is a former merchant home open to the public. It is the best place for a look at one of Nara’s traditional machiya townhouses with a shop space in the front of the building and the living quarters in the rear.
Naramachi Shiryokan
This history museum in central Naramachi displays many artifacts with Japanese explanations. The museum also focuses on the brightly colored red and white hanging monkeys (migawari-zaru) commonly seen in Naramachi doorways.
Imanishike Shoin Residence
Imanishike Shoin Residence, located in the eastern part of Naramachi, is a former residence of an important temple official who worked at Kofukuji Temple. Imanishike has a pleasant garden, a large interior, and a space for enjoying green tea and Japanese sweets.

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The Best way to cover Naramachi??
Here’s a suggested itinerary!
Begin with Sarusawa pond
Sarusawa pond is a home to many tortoises rather than fish. From the southern part of the pond, people can have a photogenic view of the second highest pagoda of Japan in Kofuku-ji temple in the Northeast.
A shop in Naramachi
Take the narrow pathway to the Mochiidono market street
Mochiidono street is the roofed market street along which there are typical Japanese teisyoku restaurant, shops of informal cotton kimono/yukata and special slippers/geta, tempura of minced fish meat, etc.
The arcade ends and the name of the street changes to Shimomikado. Cross the street at the signal and continue following the same street.
Turn left to the direction of Naramachi Museum
There is a sign to the museum and the Naramachi Monogatarikan Hall so it’s unlikely you’ll miss it.
Turn right at the corner of Naramachi Museum to the direction of Koshindo Hall
Koshindo Hall has hundreds of substitute monkeys/Migawari zaru which are the charms against misfortune and are believed to protect the families inside from disease and disasters.
Passing the well-known and delicious Tofu cuisine restaurant called Kondo and the Building of local radio station and turn left.
Turn right to the direction of Naramachi Lattice House
It is on the Kamikaido street. Naramachi Lattice House is newly constructed reproduction of a typical traditional townhouse for a middle class merchant.
Backtrack a little bit to the corner of Naramachi Museum and turn right.
Turn left in between Naramachi Kobo and the café called Kanakana. Here, you can have a look at the shops of Naramachi Kobo. Then at the end of a very short trip to the world of traditional handicraft, you’ll arrive in front of Daijoin Temple Garden Cultural Hall.
This will mark the last destination of the suggested route.
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Uneme Shrine; west of Sarusawa no Ike
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About Joshua Hideki

Hi! I'm Hideki. You can call me Josh! ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ Welcome!!~ This is a Travel Blog covering Japan, and many other bits & pieces of my personal life. Photography, Blogging, Fashion & Traveling in Style. A travel guide for everyone with these passions. Absorb the mesmerizing atmosphere, take in amazing sights & let the enchanting ambiance take you away as you embrace different cultures & see the world through my eyes - my Eternal Memories. Visit my Blog at: ! Come discover Japan from the inside with me and also we'll provide you with the best destinations to visit; and that includes the rest of the World too! Please enjoy! Discover Japan & Travel the World with me!! Life is precious, you only have one so live it to the fullest!

4 thoughts on “Naramachi

  1. Nice photos ; D In Poland a lot of snow now ; D

  2. […] has built a memorial hall in one of the former cotton warehouses which traces the company’s history to the present day. A number of other museums are located […]

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