Ms. Mari Hashimoto, who is the deputy director of the Eisei Bunko (Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo), told us her favorite spots in Nara. She has a detailed knowledge of Japanese arts.
The Shoso-in Treasures Exhibition “THIS IS IT!” “Nishiki Murasaki Aya Beni Rokechi Ashiginu no Manui no Mo”
Ms. Hashimoto said, “It is really more difficult to store cloth than wood and stone. So it is hard to believe that this skirt has kept not only its shape but its colors and designs as well. It’s so fabulous.” She also said “It gives me a sense of the aesthetic of gorgeous women’s fashion and palace life of that time.”
The Must-Try Dish! Gimmick of Bringing Back Memories
She said “In this restaurant, you can enjoy dishes which are totally opposite to Nara’s typical traditional cuisine.
Their work is creative and made with culinary skill. It brings out each of the flavors of food from Nara.”
The lunch and dinner menus are left up to the chef, Hiroshi Kawashima (forty-seven years old).
He said, “Each dish has a story and gives you a trigger to remind you of various memories.”
Ms. Hashimoto praises his cooking highly. “I can’t help talking about each dish with friends.”
Look, Learn, and Prompt Speculation
Talking of Nara is Todaiji Temple (Map: Yellow). First of all, you should visit to see Daibutsu-den (the Great Buddha Hall). You can feel the power of the biggest wooden architectural structure.
The Nara era was the time when the Great Buddha was built. In the Kamakura and the Edo eras, the Great Buddha Hall was restored after being burned during a skirmish. The Great Buddha sat through these three big historical events. I would love you to imagine the Great Buddha in each of these three periods in history, and walk into the world of what the Great Buddha saw.
Todaiji Museum (Orange) is a must, too. It was renovated this September. A screen with an elegant picture scroll spreads out before you at the entrance. You can have a panoramic vision of Japanese history through seeing every single showpiece.
After enjoying the Todaiji Temple, you can go to “Mori Narazuke” (Red) which is close to the Namdaimon (the Southern Great Gate). Narazuke is a kind of Japanese pickle. You can buy a gourd-shaped Narazuke (2～3 cm high). It is exceedingly pretty and must be a good souvenir.
The antique shop, “Yu Mei Dou”(Green), in front of the Nara National Museum, has a friendly and very Nara atmosphere. There are Buddha antiques and tea sets. Please extend your visit from Nara Koen Park to Toshodaiji Temple (Purple) and Kairyuouji Temple (Blue). In Toshodaiji Temple(Purple), you can see a golden hall, in which is held an ordination ceremony. Today, this Kondo (golden hall) still remains from the Nara era. The atmosphere of the temple’s grounds gives us a quiet and refreshing feeling. Kairyuouji Temple (Blue) is also a peaceful temple. You should pray at the five-storied small pagoda (a national treasure). It is enshrined in the main building of the temple. You can see details of it.
(From November to March, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.)
Todaiji Museum is open from 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
(From November to March, 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.) TEL: +81･742･22･5511
○ Toshodaiji Temple: Open 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. TEL: +81･742･33･7900
○ Kairyuouji Temple: Open 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. TEL: +81･742･33･5765
○ Mori Narazuke: Open 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. TEL: +81･742･26･2063
A gourd-shaped Narazuke price = 960 yen(including tax) per 100g
○ Yumeidou: Open 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
It was established in 1958. There is a café space. TEL: +81･742･22･3301
○ Akordu: Closed on Monday and as otherwise noted.)
Lunch course is 6,500 yen. Dinner course is 13,000 yen (not including tax and a service fee)
Make a Little Side Trip
“Shougetsu Dou” is a Japanese-style confection store which is located near the herb farm. One of the famous confections, “Kimigoromo,” is the most popular (110 yen / block). It has a fluffy texture. Needless to say, it tastes good and comes in a pretty cube shape.
From JR Kyoto St.: about 45 minutes to JR Nara St. by Miyako-oji Rapid Service.
From Kintetsu Kyoto St.: about 35 minutes to Kintetsu Nara St. by express train.
From JR Shin Osaka St.: about 5 minutes to JR Osaka St. by JR local train.
From JR Osaka St.: about 50 minutes to JR Nara St. by Yamatoji Rapid Service.
From Kintetsu Osaka Namba St.: about 35 minutes to Kintetsu Nara St. by express train.
From Kintetsu Nara St.: about 1 hour 50 minutes to Yamato Yagi St. by express train. about 15 minutes from Yamato Yagi St. to Yamato Nishi-Oji St. by express train. *You can take a local train from Yamato Yagi St. to Yamato Nishi-Oji St., but it takes a little more time than the express train.
From Yamato Nishi-Oji St., about 5 minutes to Kintetsu Nara St. by local train.
From Osaka International Airport: about 60 minutes to JR Nara St. or Kintetsu Nara St. by shuttle bus.
From Kansai International Airport: about 1 hour and 20 minutes to JR Nara St. or Kintetsu Nara St. by shuttle bus.
Supporters: Iwatani Corp., Nippon Telegraph and Telephone West Corp., Kansai Electrical Safety Inspection Association, Canon Inc., Kyoto Arts And Crafts University, Kintetsu Railway Co., Central Japan Railway Co., West Japan Railway Co., Shionogi Healthcare Co., Daikin Industries, Ltd., Daiwa House Industry Co., Hakutsuru Sake Brewing Co., Maruichi Steel Tube Ltd. and Yamato Noen Co.
Special cooperation: The Yomiuri Shimbun
Cooperation: Minerva Shobo Ltd., Yomiuri Telecasting Corp. and others