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Nara-machi is a maze of lanes and alleys lined with old warehouses and machiya (traditional wooden houses) that have been converted into galleries, shops, and cafés. A lot of locals still live here, so the smell of grilled mackerel at lunchtime or roasted tea in the afternoon wafts through the air. Many of the old shops deal in Nara's renowned arts and crafts, such as akahadayaki
pottery, ink, and linen. In recent years, Nara-machi has also become home to younger artisans with a contemporary take on the city’s traditional crafts. A free map, available from any Nara City Tourism Information Office, guides you to the main shops, museums, and galleries, as do English signposts.
Remember that stores can close irregularly. From the southwest corner of Sarusawa-ike, with the pond notice board on your left, walk straight until you come to a main road, on the other side of which is the center of Nara-machi.
Nara Koen has the city's popular tourist sites. Even so, it is wide enough to accommodate thousands of giggling schoolchildren and other Japanese...