Exploring Old Town Nabari on a Rental Bike

The old town district in Nabari City used to be a castle town of its Jinya (administrative office) and a post town along the Hase-kaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1867), and the townscape still retains the atmosphere of the prosperous old days. The city is also surrounded by a river, making you feel close to nature.

Yet, even though I was born and raised in Nabari and have lived here for decades, I realized there are still so many places that I have never been to. This time, we’re going to wander around the Old Town Nabari on a rental bike! I’m expecting that we will learn a lot about the unknown charms of the town since biking can go longer distances than walking.

Riding around the Old Town Nabari

Starting from Nabari Station

You can rent a bicycle at the Nabari Tourist Information in front of Nabari Station.

Nabari Tourist Information

At the tourist information office, we purchased special tokens that can be exchanged for food and items sold in various shops in the city. We’re about to enjoy a stomach-filling cycling route by visiting stores recommended by the Tourist Association.
Length: about 6 km, 3 hours

Special tokens in hand
Special tokens in hand

Newlyweds, my wife and I, born and raised in Nabari, know surprisingly little about the city. Today, we are exploring our hometown. Let’s go!

Nabari River with Cherry Blossoms

Pedaling down in front of Nabari Station, we are heading for the Nabari River! It is so lovely to ride a bicycle while the sunlight glistens on the surface of the river.

In front of Nabari Station

It is such a warm spring day that we bike leisurely, enjoying the full-bloomed cherry blossoms and beautiful scenery.

Enjoying the scenery while riding

Cherry blossoms

Passing through the overgrown bamboo forest, we coasted down to the Oyado Low-water Bridge.

The breeze is soooo nice!
You can see the mountains and rivers close to you near the bridge, which makes a great photo spot!

Oyado Low-water Bridge over the Nabari River
Oyado Low-water Bridge over the Nabari River

Crossing the rice paddies that spread in front of our eye, we head for the center of the Old Town.

Be careful; there is a lot of traffic near the confluence of the Nabari and Uda Rivers

We take a rest on the riverside.
Nabari River Fireworks Festival is held here every summer, attracting many spectators.

The Nabari riverside

Riding leisurely on Hase Kaido

Now let’s potter around the quaint Hase Kaido Road!
You will find Yanase-shuku, the Former Residence of the Hosokawa family, there. The main building still retains its original appearance, and visitors can enjoy the atmosphere of the old time. You can also rent bikes at Yanase-shuku.


The Old Town area is easy to get around on a bike with flat streets, even for an occasional rider.

The Old Town Nabari

The next stop is Yamatoya, a long-established shop that has been making yokan for 150 years. The shop has a very nostalgic atmosphere.


We used the token at this shop and received 3 pieces of handmade monaka in exchange.

Monaka is made of crisp thin wafers filled with anko (azuki bean paste). At Yamatoya, the anko is filled to order, so you can enjoy freshly-sandwiched monaka.

Eating monaka at Yamatoya
Eating monaka

Then we walk through the unique allies called “hiyawai” in the Old Town Nabari. “Hiyawai” is a Nabari dialect word for a narrow alleyway that winds between houses, through which a single person can manage to pass.

Walking down a hiyawai

Getting out of the hiyawai, we arrived at the next destination, the Marufuku meat shop! We got “Iga Ninja Frankfurters” with the token there. The juicy gravy fills my mouth, and it feels like it even seeps into my body!


Eating “Iga Ninja Frankfurters”

You can try a shuriken (ninja star) throw in the shop. My wife and I had a showdown! I discovered my wife’s competitive side (laughs).

Throwing a shuriken at the Marufuku meat shop

Next, we visited Hanabishi-an. You can enjoy and experience shadow play, as well as see tatami rooms in a machiya (traditional townhouse).

The owner and his wife entertain guests with shadow puppet theater (reservation required, 500 yen per person), which they started to contribute to the local community of Nabari. The exquisite banter between the two was so heartwarming.

My wife and I used the token to get an o-choko (a small sake cup) for each and bought a bottle of local sake. I can’t wait for the night to drink it with my wife!

Watching the shadow puppet show performed by the owner and his wife
The owner of Hanabishi-an and his wife
The owner of Hanabishi-an and his wife

Getting to know the history of Nabari

The Old Town exploring ride is reaching its climax.

Although the area has few hills, this one here is quite an ascent! Since I am revived by the monaka, the sausage, and the lovebirds‘ power, this much uphill should be a piece of cake (or a piece of monaka)!


The last stop was Nabari Todo Family Residence Remains.

“It’s a really nice view! So relaxing,” my wife said. It still has a karesansui garden (Japanese dry garden, a zen garden). Furnishings, swords, and armor are exhibited inside the buildings. We were very excited to discover the charm of Nabari’s history.



After the leisurely ride in the Old Town, we returned to the tourist information center at Nabari Station. As I said before, touring on a bike allows you to visit more destinations at your own pace than on foot.

I suggested to my wife that we should buy bicycles. “I want to do this on my own bike next time,” I said on our way home.