OWL Magazine Korea

Nara Guesthouse – “Haruya Naramachi”

During my recent trip to Nara, I chose to stay at a traditional Japanese guesthouse called “Haruya Naramachi.” The reason behind selecting this accommodation was quite simple – while searching for Nara area lodgings on Agoda, I discovered that I could stay for one night at a remarkably affordable price, approximately 20,000 won.

Considering the limited time left in my travel itinerary, the fact that I could find such affordable accommodation even on short notice was a pleasant surprise. Additionally, the allure of staying in a guesthouse that boasts over 120 years of history promised a unique experience compared to more conventional accommodations.

“A Night in a Traditional Japanese Guesthouse – Haruya Naramachi”

I felt fortunate to find a place where I could have a special experience at a reasonable price in Japan. Staying in a traditional Japanese inn, or ryokan, often comes with a hefty price tag, so finding a place with a similar atmosphere at an affordable rate was a great find, especially since I was traveling alone.

“Unstaffed Lodging”

One notable aspect was that the lodging had no staff present. On the first night, arriving late, I wondered if there was anyone at the guesthouse, and even the next morning, there was no sign of staff until midday. It seemed that at specific times, staff members would come to clean the checked-out rooms and prepare for the next guests.

Arriving at the guesthouse around a little past 8 PM on the first night, I was a bit puzzled. Fortunately, upon closer inspection of the main gate, I noticed a message left by the guesthouse on paper. Inside, examining the surroundings, I found detailed instructions on how to open the door and enter, along with information on room allocation depicted as a map.

“A Stay that Felt Like a Mission”

The message included a brief greeting in English along with the password for entering the accommodation and details about room allocation. It felt like I was on a special mission, especially since I had to find the entrance and enter the house using the given password. Fortunately, I successfully found my way in and completed the password entry without any issues. On the way to my assigned room, I exchanged greetings with a Japanese guest using the same room.

“Experiencing the Atmosphere of a Traditional Guesthouse – Haruya Naramachi”

Haruya Naramachi is said to be a traditional Japanese guesthouse with over 120 years of history. It might not have had this appearance from the beginning, and currently, additional dormitory-style buildings seem to have been added to accommodate more guests. The place I stayed in was a building in an annex, consisting of capsule hotel-style dormitories. With two floors, it could accommodate around 8 guests at once.

Although I didn’t reserve a tatami mat room, I couldn’t explore it, but from the living room to the yard, the house was constructed in a structure quite similar to the house I lived in during my childhood. Of course, with even more history and charm, given its long-standing existence.

“Unexpected Connections at the Guesthouse”

Staying at a guesthouse allows for natural interactions with fellow travelers. During this trip, I had the chance to meet various people at Haruya Naramachi. Right after arriving, I met Japanese traveler Yoshinaki Yahata from Tokyo and Andrew from Australia.

Andrew approached me while I was heading to get a towel, asking, “Do you speak English?” I replied, “Yes,” and he suggested sitting down for a whiskey together. Originally planning to shower first and then sit down for a conversation, the shower room was occupied by someone else at that time. Despite feeling a bit uncomfortable due to sweating and not having showered, we sat down, had a drink, and shared various stories.

Andrew, handling Finance Management in Australia, was traveling with his family in Japan. He had interesting stories to share, including overcoming challenging times during the COVID-19 pandemic. We discussed Japanese travels and shared our experiences.

After the conversation, we exchanged Instagram accounts. Andrew said if I ever plan to visit Australia, I should contact him, and he would introduce me to his Korean friends. Similarly, if he visits Korea, he would reach out. These unexpected encounters made the evening at the guesthouse quite memorable.

“Meeting Yoshiyaki Yahata – A Chef from Tokyo”

The next day, while exploring Nara and returning to the guesthouse to retrieve my belongings, I coincidentally met Yoshinaki Yahata. After chatting, I learned that he works as a chef in Tokyo. He apologized for not being proficient in English, but I assured him that communication was not an issue.

During our brief conversation, he mentioned that he was traveling around Nara, and when he asked about my future plans, I told him I was heading to Kobe after already having been to Kyoto.

Staying at the guesthouse allowed me to connect with people in unexpected ways. While I may not have immediate plans to visit Tokyo or Australia, the connections made at the guesthouse were enjoyable and meaningful. The possibility of meeting again in the future, perhaps during a visit to their home countries or through planned reunions, adds an extra layer of interest to these interactions.

In conclusion, Haruya Naramachi was charming in itself, but the unexpected connections made at the guesthouse made it even more memorable.

Nara Guesthouse – Haruya Naramachi

  • Address: 31-4 Minamifukurocho, Nara, 630-8342, Japan
  • Phone: +815035751511
  • Website: Haruya Naramachi
  • Agoda Reservation: Agoda Link