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Local Insights

Michelin Dining

The world famous Michelin Guide has confirmed that Nara is a foodie paradise, awarding its maximum three stars to Wa Yamamura. Hanagaki, Musoan and Onjaku received two stars. There are also 12 one star restaurants and 15 Bib Gourmand, for affordable excellence. In Nara, you’ll find world class dining at a reasonable price.

Late Night Tipples

Nara’s not all temples and deer. Down back lanes and in venerable hotels, you will find discreet, world standard bars, with rare whiskies and innovative cocktails. Free to develop their craft, Nara’s bartenders have won major international awards. But it’s the friendly, low key service that has built a loyal following. Browse bars and izakaya in Nara.

Green Tea

As an early seat of power, Nara has elegant traditions, including tea ceremony. Noted tea master Rikyu spent time here, building a garden for tea ceremony in Yoshino. Jikoin Temple in Yamato Koriyama was built for prayer, but also to enjoy a Zen style tea ceremony. From a casual cup of matcha to a full ceremony, you can experience the art and rich taste of Japanese tea. Find out more about tea in Nara.

Traditional Sweets

There are many ways to satisfy a sweet tooth in Nara. Try kusamochi, warmed on a hotplate in winter. Many sweets are based on mochi: glutinous rice. Mugwort leaves are often added for a subtle taste and green color. Sweet bean paste is another key ingredient. If you don’t like bean paste, try a vanilla Daibutsu Purin custard.

Yamato Yasai

Nara’s rich soil, clean air and pure water are ideal for growing the vegetables used in shojin ryori, Buddhist vegetarian food. The area was once known as Yamato, and Yamato Yasai has become a formal brand, indicating high quality, organic produce. Some restaurants display a green paper lantern with the characters for “Yamato”, indicating their commitment to local farms. Read about Yamato Yasai & Nara's Vegetarian Heritage.


Somen noodles were brought from China in the Nara period. There’s a story that the son of a shinto priest from Ohmiwa Jinja Shrine planted wheat seeds in the area about 1200 years ago, and started making somen. As Miwa is on several pilgrimage routes, Miwa Somen spread throughout Japan. Don't leave Nara without trying this historic dish.


Sake wasn’t invented in Nara, but the process of refining it was pioneered here. In 689, an official Imperial sake brewery was established, producing high quality sake. Ohmiwa Jinja Shrine is home to the god of sake brewing, drawing brewers from all over Japan. With dozens of small breweries across Nara, you have a chance to taste many types.


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