Area Guide: Naramachi Walk

Enjoy the freshly-made yomogi mochi as you strolled along the street of Sanjo-dori.
Naramachi, the narrow and winding streets of traditional merchant houses, hosting several sweet shops, art galleries, hip cafes, ryokan and craft shops is an excellent place for picking up some unique souvenirs and craftwork. It extends for about one kilometer south of Sanjo-dori Street. The area is compact and pleasant for strolling and exploring into neighbouring streets. It is also located conveniently within walking distance to both of Nara’s main train stations. A walk in Naramachi typically last about an hour and half to three. I would recommend starting the walk in the afternoon after the morning trip to the major sights, north of this area.
A simple walking route with the blue line representing the primary walking path while lines of other colours representing interesting side-walk to try.. Pink icons represent the different sights to check out. Check out the linked google map below for more details.
View the google map of my walking route in Naramachi HERE
Here are some of the highlights along my walking path:
  • Start at Sarusawa-ike Pond, with photo taking session. It is a home to many tortoises. Here,  you can have a photogenic view of the pagoda of Kofuku-ji temple from the southern part of the pond.
  • Stroll along Sanjo-dori street to eat and watch the dramatic mochi-pounding process at Nakatanidou, followed by some window-shopping. Check out Ikeda Gankodo, a traditional store that makes and sells intricate Japanese fans in Nara and Ishii, a store dedicated to products made from Gojo's persimmons.
  • Do a U-turn and enter Mochiidono Shopping Street, a roofed market street where you find typical Japanese teisyoku restaurant, shops of simple kimono/yukata and geta, tempura of minced fish meat, etc.
  • Walk about in Kiratto Nara to see some interesting designs in the small retail outlet.
  • Take a left turn to find Yu Nakagawa for some souvenirs shopping. 
  • Within this street is a local FM Station with friendly DJs who will waved at you as you passed by. 
  • At the end of Mochiidono Shopping Street is the Shimomikado street, where you can have lunch/early dinner at Edogawa Grilled Eel with their Unagi set and some Umeshu.
  • Take a right turn to explore the Naramachi craft Museum and enjoy a good cup of caffeine at Coffee & Teishoku Minamo.  
  • Next, retrace your steps back to pedestrian crossing to have some amazing wagashi at the 150 years old Nakanishi Yosaburo tea house, which I would recommend to take your time to enjoy the atmosphere and the traditional sweets.
  • Explore Naramachi Lattice House to have a look at a typical traditional townhouse for a middle class merchant.
  • Before Naramachi development into a merchant district, the area used to be occupied by the once spacious Gango-ji Temple, known for its beautiful roof. So check it out!
  • Finally, end your walk at Daijoin Temple Garden Cultural Hall.

Each time I return to this area, it feels like I stumble on something new. So don't hesitate to venture into new streets or shops!