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Recently we were selected by JETRO (Japanese external Trade organisation) to visit the prefecture of Nara, Japan. While it was a very short trip, we met many talented makers, visited significant cultural landmarks, hung out with the deer and fell in love with the locals. Here’s our little overview and some tips for you.

Nara, JapanNara Temple

Deer:

If you’ve heard of Nara before, chances are it’s because of the deer. We knew they were famous for them but we didn’t realise they just rome the city. No joke, we saw one crossing the road at the traffic lights. They’re very friendly but if you buy the cookies to feed them don’t hesitate - they get mad. But hey, so would we if you were dangling a cookie in front of us.

Deer, Nara

Deer

Stay: Onyado Nono Nara Hotel

This traditional style hotel has a bunch of natural hot springs  on the first floor. It’s the perfect way to finish or start the day.  While this hotel makes you take your shoes off before you enter,  it actually gives you a nice sense of Japanese living. The buffet style  Japanese breakfast is also one of the better ones we have had. 

Nono Nara Hotel

Nono Nara

Onsen

Coffee:

Any B&B Run by an incredibly sweet Japanese couple who spent the last few years living in Melbourne, the pair have certainly mastered the art of great coffee and excellent service. Pop by for a latte and homemade granola, or book their airbnb located above the cafe. 

Any

Any

Coffee Japan

 

Eat: Minamo 

In an old traditional house that’s been tastefully renovated, Minamo is quite the experience. The concrete and raw timber beams with creamy  leather and steel detailing is a minimalist’s dream. We ordered the curry and it was delightful, as were the women running the kitchen.

Minamo

Do: Hand-dying workshop

Eboshi Senhoku Creator is an original textile brand by Minako Inamura. The workshop takes place in an old converted oil factory. Here you use natural dyes made from seaweed and use traditional stencils to create a little masterpiece.

Dye workshop

Workshop

Do: Kita Saké Brewery Tour 

If you’re a saké drinker then we highly recommend a visit to Kita Saké Brewery. Here you will learn about the long process of making this delicious rice wine. We learnt about why some saké cost way more than others and how some have added alcohol and others not. Oh, and you get to try them too.

Saké workshop

sake tasting

Shop: Kauri

With a similar feel to Provider, this little shop sells local and antique ceramics, green tea, roasted coffee and other cute home things. We picked up a couple of personal souvenirs from here on our last day.

Provider Tips

  • Tip One: Pack slip-ons. In a particularly traditional city, you’ll have to take your shoes on and off before entering a lot of places. Slip-ons would’ve saved us a lot of time.
  • Tip Two: Nara is famous for ‘kakinoha’ sushi, which is basically sushi wrapped in a leaf, not seaweed. You’re not meant to eat the leaf. We found this out on the last day :/