Aburaya - The Original Edo Period Inn in Haibara, Nara Exactly as it was over 300 years ago

    Aburaya is the name of this old fashioned hatago 旅籠はたご which means "inn" in Japanese. This particular hatago is located in Haibara, Nara. A man named Motoori Norinaga once stayed here. He was a famous otaku and Kokugaku scholar (student of Japanese classics) from the Edo period. He stopped at this hatago on his way to and from Yoshino, Nara for cherry blossom viewing in 1772.

    sunny image outside of inn with person walking in

    Unfortunately, the business at this inn came to a halt near the end at the end of Meiji period (1868-1912). But it remains almost exactly as it used to be. And you can look around the old building for free! Not too shabby if you're a history buff. Let's pop in and see what Edo period otaku liked so much.

    hallway looking into room with artwork

    When you enter, there is a doma 土間, which means dirt floor hallway. It stretches on in front of you from the entrance. On the right there is a tatami room, called a misenoma 店の間 or 見せの間. You can take your shoes off and step up into the room, if you want. But I didn’t want to. So instead, I continued straight down the dirt floor hallway in front of me.

    well with bamboo sticks and wooden box

    I came across a well…

    kitchen ceiling with wood beams and sunshine

    And a kitchen. The ceiling is really high and there is an open space at the top. I'm guessing was made that way so smoke could ventilate out.

    wooden staircase going up to second floor

    Eventually, you'll find this super steep staircase. If you climb it, you might expect to see an attic or storage area of some sort. But you'd be wrong. Can you guess what this upstairs was used for?

    dining hall tatami room with plates

    It's a dining hall. At Aburaya, they have tables tables set the way they were in the Edo period. You can sit there all you want, but no one will bring you food. But those hungry for historical accuracy will leave satisfied.

    shogun diary describing details of the meals and dates

    Apparently, their food was truly outstanding back in the days of the shogun. At one point, a religious association came to stay here on their trip from present-day Shido, Sanuki City, Kagawa prefecture. One of them loved the food so much, he kept the details of his meals in his diary.

    kanji outside of inn on brown post

    Well, that's about it for this place. Are you disappointed? Me too. It wasn't that much fun for me unfortunately.

    However, this place was a really important during the Edo and Meiji periods. It was a really popular overnight destination for those traveling to Ise shrine on pilgrimage. Aburaya Inn was located right in front of Ise-Omote-Kaido Road and Ise-Hon-Kaido Road. Its placement was ideal for people on a pilgrimage because both of those roads led to Ise. Of course, there were no trains or cars back then, so it took days to get to there. Thus, many people would spend a night or two at this inn thus making Haibara a post-station, or post-town, to many weary travelers.

    Aburaya

    Pros

    • Free
    • Since there aren’t many inns from the Edo period still around, this place is rather unique

    Cons

    • So boring
    • Basically, it was a simple inn back in the day and it remains just as simple today
    • It is a 5-minute walk from Kintetsu Haibara station, which is a small countryside station in Nara prefecture, and about an hour-long train ride from the bigger stations such as Kintetsu, Nara or Osaka, Namba
    • Like... really really boring

    Overall Rating

    3

    Accessibility Rating

    6

    Fun Rating

    1

    Uniqueness Rating

    5

    Additional Information

    2672-1 Haibarahagihara
    Uda City, Nara Prefecture 633-0253
    Japan

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    +81 0745-88-9418