I have written many articles about Nara and the fabulous places to see there. Not only because I have lived there so long and have gotten to know the place so well, but because there is so much to do here that often goes unreported. Even on the Internet, it is hard to find information that explains Nara as somewhere other than where you can find bowing deer. There are lots of things to do when traveling to Nara and good shopping is one of them. The Higashimuki Shopping District in Nara City is filled with great shops to look around both traditional and modern.
At the beginning of Higashimuki, you will find a statue fountain of the monk Gyoki Bosatsu, a renowned Buddhist monk who preached in the Nara period despite it being illegal to do so. He built many temples across Nara and even the giant Buddha statue inside Todaiji Temple.
Photo: Wally Gobetz on Flickr
The area is clearly proud of being a Nara location and for how long and illustrious it is. It stretches from Kintetsu Nara Station, past Nara Park toward Sanjodori Street, which leads to JR Nara Station. The street is roofed to protect from the elements and the ceiling is decorated with beautiful artwork posters of deer, forest, and other things associated with Nara Prefecture. The architecture in the street also has historical significance to Nara. The most popular bank in Nara, Nanto Ginko, is headquartered in Higashimuki and the original building remains intact.
If you are hungry, there are plenty of delicious things to eat. Higashimuki has all the modern restaurants you find in a typical city, but also has stores serving traditional Nara treats like sushi wrapped in persimmon leaves (Hanozushi), bean buns, or mochi. Shops like Nara Kojika and Manshoudou specialize in delicious Japanese snacks.
The convenience of Higashimuki is its proximity to the famous sites in Nara including the World Cultural Heritage Sites Todaiji Temple, located at the north side of the street and Kofukuji temple, located at the center. After touring through these historical sites, you can take a pleasant walk to the end of the street and head to Sarusawa Pond. If you love nature and wish to smell the clean Nara air as much as possible, at the pond you can find a place to rest with a spectacular view.
Higashimuki also boasts great shopping with shops selling many kinds of goods. There is a large shopping mall with the street’s namesake, Higashimuki Shopping Mall, and many different stores from cheap 100 yen to antique stores. If you have never worn a Japanese kimono, the local shop Kimono Daishin sells different designs and accessories for you to try on and see how well it suits you.
For anyone taking their special time to spend in Nara City, Higashimuki Street will bring just the right amount of activity and adventure. It is possible for one small street to have great dining, sightseeing, and shopping and Nara proves it with this one. So while you make new friends with the local deer, be sure to come across Higashimuki not only for walking but also for experiencing Nara’s many entertainments.