Must-Eat Snacks and Iconic Souvenir in Old Town Nara 奈良町必吃甜點和文青散步

We spent the morning hanging out with deer at two World Heritage status sites — Tōdai-ji and Kasuga-taisha. Then the afternoon was filled with delicious food and leisurely strolls in cute souvenir shops and charming neighborhoods.

在奈良的早上在奈良公園、東大寺和春日大社看小鹿看得心花怒放,下午的行程是奈良必吃美食、文青紀念品店和懷舊老房子住宅區散步。

On the way out of the Nara Park, we passes by another UNESCO World Heritage site, Kohfukuji (興福寺). Kohfukuji’s five-story pagoda (Gojū-no-tō) is a landmark of Nara. The classic view of the pagoda is from across the Sarusawa Pond (猿澤池). (Yet we were too hungry and tired to go.)

Kohfukuji is a Buddhist temple founded in 669 AD. This is another tutelary temple compound of the Fujiwara family. Kohfukuji was not just an important center of Buddhism in Japan, it was also a political power house. Even after the capital of Japan moved from Nara to Kyoto, Kohfukuji maintained its strong political influence because the Fujiwara family remained in power.

During Kohfukuji’s hay days, monks here operated an army. The temples were burned down in civil wars many times. The current five-story pagoda was rebuilt in 1426. It is the second tallest wooden pagoda in Japan.

離開奈良公園的路上,走過也是世界遺產的興福寺,雖然說沒有力氣走到猿澤池的另一邊往回看五重塔…

興福寺是個西元669年建的佛教寺廟,也是個藤原氏家族的守護神廟,興福寺不只是當年的佛教重心,同時也非常具有政治影響力,即便是在首都遷到京都之後,因為藤原氏還在政壇活躍的關係,興福寺的地位仍然非常重要,在極盛時期甚至有自己的軍隊,這個寺廟也因此在內戰之中或者大火被燒毀好幾次,現在看到的五重塔是1426年建的,五重塔是日本第二高的木造塔。

The street in between the five-story pagoda and Sarusawa Pond is Sanjo Dori (三條通). The famous mochi place Nakatanidou (中谷堂) is less than five minutes of a walk from the pagoda. Nakatanidou sells Yomogi mochi (よもぎ餅).

The making of Nakatanidou mochi is a well-known Nara tourist spot. Two mochi masters pound a light green dough with giant wooden mallets at a ridiculously high speed and synchronized rhythm. It was way too crowded to see them in action when we were there, not to mention taking any pictures. YouTube “奈良中谷堂” and you’ll see their incredible techniques, especially when it’s towards the end and one person is folding and adding water and the other person pounding the dough with a mallet.

These snacks have sweet azuki beans filling. Their mochi is made of glutinous rice and Japanese mugwort. Then it’s covered in roasted soy bean powder. These were soooo good. The filling was not too sweet. Their mochi was so chewy with an aroma of soy bean and mugwort. Grab a fresh mochi to go for just 130 yen.

五重塔和猿澤池之間這條路叫三條通,赫赫有名的紅豆餡艾草麻糬中谷堂就在這條街上。中谷堂搗麻糬的職人真的很神,速度超快,我們去的這天實在人太多,我其實根本看不到,大家可以YouTube看看中谷堂搗麻糬奇景。這個麻糬在日文其實叫餅,內餡是不會太甜的紅豆泥,麻糬有加艾草,綠綠香香的,外表裹一層很香的黃豆粉,很Q,超好吃!單買一個日幣一百三。

After buying and giving away so many deer senbei, right next door to Nakatanidou you can get some human senbei to try.

隔壁有個賣仙貝的小攤,餵了一堆鹿仙貝可以來這裡吃人的仙貝。

For lunch, I was aiming for tsukemen (沾麵) from つけめん・らーめん元喜神, a chicken broth ramen place. Yet there was a long line at even 2:00 pm. Traveling with my parents means waiting in a long line for food is simply not permissible. With regrets, we moved on to find other places to eat. Another restaurant with a good review happened to be nearby. We still had to wait for seats, but the line was not bad at all.

午餐一心想著要吃元喜神的雞白湯沾麵,但是竟然下午兩點了還大排長龍,跟著爸媽無法排這麼久的隊只好放棄,來到斜對街評價也不錯的釜粹烏龍麵。

We ate at an udon place, Kamaiki (うどん釜粋). Their Sanuki udon (讃岐うどん) is award-winning. They do have an English menu. Kamaiki serves their udon as hot udon soup and cold or hot tsukemen.

I ordered an udon tsukemen. You pick up udon noodle with chopsticks one or two at a time, dip the noodle in the bowl of broth on the left, and then eat it. The broth I got was pork, vegetable, and Japanese soy sauce based. This dish was 880 yen. Their udon was al dente. Tempura shrimp was also tasty with light and airy breading. My husband liked his tempura fried chicken in udon noodle soup.

釜粋的讚岐烏龍麵是有得過獎的,有烏龍湯麵也有沾麵,各式天婦羅也是招牌,炸衣很輕很酥脆又不膩。我點了豬肉和野菜口味的日式醬油烏龍沾麵,一客日幣880。

Nara Souvenir Shopping – Craftsmanship from the 18the Century 中川政七家事布

Along and in the alleys of Sanjo Dori there is a lot of souvenir shopping. The store that really intrigued me was Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten (中川政七商店).

Nakagawa Masashichi was a textile company founded in 1716 in Nara. The company was known for its linen and mosquito nets. In the early 20th century, the textile and garment industries in Japan started to decline. Also, who’s buying mosquito nets nowadays? The company decided to revitalize Japanese craft and manufacturing and transform itself from a linen company into trendy souvenir shops.

三條通這一帶有很多小店,但我最有興趣的是中川政七商店。中川政七是做麻布和蚊帳起家的,1716年在奈良創業,二十世紀初,日本紡織業衰落,而且這年頭也沒人在買蚊帳了吧,這家公司決定要重振日本的製造業,重新包裝和轉型,現在變成很文青的文創商品店。

You can find a wide range of souvenirs here, but they are known for their linen or cotton tea towels. They are made with the traditional techniques that Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten made their linen and mosquito nets for centuries, very absorbent and quick drying. You can use it as a cheese cloth, dish cloth, or rag. These tea towels come in various patterns, including some iconic Nara and quintessential Japanese designs. (Intro about their products at the official website.)

中川政七賣的東西很雜,最有名的是家政布,其實就是抹布,容易吸水又快乾,十分萬用,可以拿來擦碗盤、蓋發酵麵團和食物、包便當、過濾東西 (這麼可愛誰捨得拿來當抹布),要幹嘛都可以 (詳見官網的簡介它的多功能),而且圖案都超級可愛,有奈良的小鹿大佛、富士山、卡通人物和其他日本風的圖案。

Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten operates two stores in Nara. Nipponichi (日本市) is on Sanjo Dori, about a block away from the mochi shop Nakatanidou. Note that in English version Google Map you want “日本市奈良三条店 Souvenir Store” not “中川政七三條店 Home Goods Store.”

中川政七在奈良有兩家店,一家叫日本市,在三條通上面,如果在英文版Google Map打中川政七三條店或走到不知名沒東西的小斜巷,日本市奈良三条店才是你要去的地方,就在三條通上,離中谷堂麻糬大概一個街區。

The other store is not too far from there — Yu Nakagawa (遊中川). Yu Nakagawa is in a renovated traditional Japanese-style house in Naramachi where Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten started their business. The two stores sell slightly different products. I would recommend visiting both.

另一家店叫遊中川,也不遠,店面在一間傳統老房子裡,很漂亮,兩間店雖然有重複但賣的東西不太一樣,遊中川比較多衣服,我是覺得兩間都可以去。

 

Charming Alley Ways and Traditional Housing in Naramachi 奈良町老街散步

We spent the rest of the afternoon strolling through charming alley ways of old town Nara — Naramachi (奈良町). Naramachi used to be an annexation of the temples; then it turned into a business district and now a touristy area with lots of boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants. Naramachi still preserves lots of traditional townhouses, called machiya, that were owned by merchants from the 15th to 19th centuries. The streets and houses largely maintained the looks from the 19th century.

These townhouses are long and narrow. The fronts are shops and the backs are living quarters. Most of the houses have delicate lattice sliding doors.

下午逛完之後在奈良町閒晃,奈良町最早是寺院區,後來變成商業區,現在留著十九世紀的樣子,這一帶有很多紀念品店、咖啡店和餐廳。這一帶的老房子就是所謂的machiya町家,出入口窄,縱深很長,門面是很漂亮的窗格,所以又叫格子屋。

You’d see that some of these businesses hang strings of red cloth thingy at their store fronts. The red balls are monkeys. These monkey charms are called migawari-zaru from a folk religion, Kōshin-shinkō (庚申信仰). The red cloth monkey charms are supposed to keep one safe from illness and accidents.

很多店家門口會掛這種一串一串紅紅難以理解的東西,他們是庚申信仰的庚申猴,用來祈福和避災。

Before we hop on a train to head back to Osaka, there’s one last thing I wanted to do in Nara — getting a Buddha custard!

離開奈良之前的最後一站是跟中谷堂麻糬一樣赫赫有名的大佛布丁!

 

Daibutsu Purin has a store near Nara Park and a shop inside the Kintetsu Nara station near ticket vending machines on B1. Daibutsu Purin is vanilla custard with caramel at the bottom. The idea is similar to a flan, but the texture is more like a custard. The custard comes in cute little glass jars with Nara icons on their caps. The custard and caramel are incredibly delicious! That was a perfect ending of our Nara day trip. I saved a glass jar and now it is a paper clip holder on my desk at work!

大佛布丁在靠近奈良公園那邊有一家店,近鐵奈良站售票機旁邊也有一家店,包裝超可愛,原味的是大佛,其他口味有鹿,一吃真的驚為天人耶!超級好吃!罐子還洗一洗帶回來放在我辦公桌上裝迴紋針,每天上班看了很開心,是個奈良一日遊的完美句點。

 

Kohfukuji 興福寺
kohfukuji.com

Nakatanidou 中谷堂
〒630-8217 奈良県奈良市橋本町29
(5 min walk from Kintetsu Nara station)
10:00 am – 7:00 pm
nakatanidou.jp

Kamaiki うどん釜粋
〒630-8216 奈良県奈良市東向南町13-2
11:00 am – 3:00 pm; 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm; random days off
kamaiki.com

Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten 中川政七商店
Nipponichi 日本市
630-8223 奈良県奈良市角振新屋町1-1 ファインフラッツ奈良町三条 1F
10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Yu Nakagawa 遊中川
630-8221 奈良県奈良市元林院町31-1
10:00 am – 6:30 pm
yu-nakagawa.co.jp/top/

Daibutsu Purin 大佛布丁
Kintetsu Nata station store 近鉄奈良駅店 B1F 東改札口横
9:00 am – 8:00 pm
Store map and hours
daibutsu-purin.com

 

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2 thoughts on “Must-Eat Snacks and Iconic Souvenir in Old Town Nara 奈良町必吃甜點和文青散步

  1. Pingback: Kyoto: Fall Colors at Tōfuku-ji 京都東福寺紅葉 | Near and Far

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