Local Secrets: 5 Things Most People Don't Know about Nara
If you’ve seen the well-worn tourist spots and want to escape the crowds, head down the back streets and seek the hidden gems. Discover the locals’ favourite spots, for an insider’s experience.
Just beyond Naramachi, This large classical garden with a picture book red bridge spanning the pond is a photographer’s dream in all seasons. Best of all, you’ll often have it all to yourself. There’s a comfortable, air conditioned rest area inside; an ideal escape from the summer heat.
Just off the main lobby, this stylish retro bar is the perfect spot for a quiet drink. With panoramic views of Mt. Wakakusa, it is where the locals go to see the spectacular Mt. Wakakusa Yamayaki in late January. Watch the burning mountain and fireworks as you sip a cocktail.
Hidden behind Todaiji Temple, the statues here are stunning examples of Nara period art. There is also a “secret” figure, Shukongo-jin, which is only shown on December 16th each year. Few people realise the Hokkedo is here, and you can take your time to enjoy the masterful carvings.
This is where the exquisite wagashi sweets at Nara’s top restaurants and hotels come from. For 150 years, this Naramachi favourite has made its seasonal sweets every day. Tucked behind the main store, there’s a Taisho era tea room serving light meals and of course, the signature wagashi.
In February and March, you can witness the most amazing event: the Shikayose, or deer gathering, in Nara Park. Head to the park behind the Nara National Museum before 10am, when a French Horn player summons the deer with Beethoven's 6th Symphony Pastoral. Bring your camera.