After visiting Nara’s best tourist attraction “Todai-ji temple,” you must drop by the long established shop of Nara’s special sushi, Todaiji monzen (or in front of Todai-ji temple gate) “Yamato Mahoroba Izasa-jaya.”
Well-known store of kakinoha-zushi “Izasa Nakatani honpo”
Famous in Nara, it is a long established shop, mainly making and selling “kakinoha-zushi (kakinoha sushi),” a local dish of Nara’s Yoshino region, and “izasa-zushi (izasa sushi),” a specialty of Odaigahara, one of the rainy areas in Japan.
There are many other shops dealing with Nara’s “kakinoha-zushi”, but the shop selling “izasa zushi” is very rare. The name “izasa” came from the legend of “Obagamine,” near Kitayama Village of Yoshino district where the shop was established. A character appears in this legend is “Izasa-oh,” the king of wild boar which has sasa plants grown on his back. Salmon oshizushi (pressed sushi with salmon) wrapped with sasa leaves is the original product of Izasa.
“Yamato mahoroba Izasa-jaya” located next to “Todai-ji” temple, a hot tourist attraction famous with Great Buddha
“Yamato Mahoroba Izasa-jaya,” with its restaurant and shop is located at “Yume kaze hiroba” next to the tourist attraction “Todai-ji” temple especially popular among foreign tourists. It is a Japanese-style building on the main street towards Todai-ji temple and Kasusa Shrine, so, it is easily accessed.
Also, since it is inside “Yume kaze hiroba”, the complex facility having the concept of Nara’s food and life culture information, you can visit the shop while taking rest after visiting the temple or doing shopping there.
Here is the popular menu of “Yamato Mahoroba Izasa-jaya”
The most popular menu of “Izasa-jaya” is the special Japanese set with special sushi as its main dish.
Yume-gozen includes 5 sushi, that is, kakinoha-zushi (2 pieces with saba or mackerel), salmon izasa-zushi, sakura-zhishi with sea bream, and a sansei (or edible wild plants) roll, assorted tempura, nyumen noodles, 3 small dishes, as well as grilled dish. In other words, it is a line-up of Japanese food mainly with specialties of Nara.
Kaze-gozen includes colorful mushi-zushi (or steamed sushi) with slices of anago (or conger eel), salmon and shrimps, assorted tempura, 3 small dishes, a soup and a grilled dish. Since one can try all kinds of Japanese food easily with this deluxe set, it is recommended to foreign tourists who are looking forward to “having Japanese food.”
Other than standard kakinoha-zushi with mackerel, Izasa also has their original sushi.
“Izasa-zushi,” mentioned at the beginning of this article, is the leading product with salmon on vinegared rice wrapped with sasa leaves in triangle.
Sakura-zushi is a kind of sushi with sea bream wrapped with salted sakura leaves. With rich flavor of sakura leaves, you can enjoy the fragrance different from kakinoha-zushi and izasa-zushi.
Sansai-maki is with edible wild plants covered with vinegared rice and oboro kombu (or shredded kombu), and it has a sweet and mild taste.
Warm dishes such as nyumen noodles or soup bowl menu go well with sushi, and tempura is popular not only among Japanese but also with foreign tourists.
Nyumen is a noodle dish to eat Nara’s summer specialty, “somen” noodles, in warm soup.
“Somen” is a standard summer menu for Japanese, and “Miwa somen” made in Nara’s Sakurai City is famous. Thin smooth noodles made from flour and richly flavored soup match perfectly.
Due to nice conditions with a good reputation of “Izasa Nakamoto honpo,” a well-known shop of kakiniha-zushi, and a nice location close to Todai-ji temple, people queue up for “Izasa-jaya” every day. Especially during sakura season in spring and momiji in autumn, it is very busy between AM 11:00 and PM3:00. If you avoid the peak hours for lunch, you can enter the shop rather smoothly.
Recommendation for take out “kakinoha-zushi of “Izasa Nakatani honpo”
A restaurant is on the 2nd floor and the shop in on the 1st floor. You can buy their specialties on the 1st floor.
The popular set comes with each 2 pieces of kakinoha-zushi with “mackerel, salmon, horse mackerel, and sea bream.” People often share them with family or friends. It seem some people eat in the shop or while strolling. As for garbage after eating, please just take it with you or return to the shop, and do not litter on the street or put it in the bin which belongs to other shops.
Different from nigari-zushi, kakinoha-zushi becomes tastier along with the time since its flavor permeates all over.
It is still delicious when you eat it after going back to your hotel or even next day, and so, it makes a nice souvenir. Moreover, the way to enjoy it in winter is to toast it without taking leaves off for a few minutes in the oven toaster. Its flavor becomes richer and the rice softer, and you would discover the new taste.
Please enjoy Nara’s special sushi of “Izasa” for lunch or snack during your sightseeing in Nara. You would understand that sushi does not just mean nigari-zushi, and definitely you would be fascinated with delicious taste of oshizushi.
|Todai-ji monzen “Yamato Mahoroba Izasa-jaya”
|Inside Yume kaze hiroba 16 Kasugano-cho, Nara-shi, Nara-ken
|Shop on the 1st floor AM9:30 – PM6:00
Restaurant on the 2nd floor AM11:00 – PM6:00 (L.O.PM5:00)
|Credit cards, E-money are accepted
*The information herein is as of January 2020.