By Paul Hackshaw    - 3 min read

Yamato-Koriyama in western Nara is home to one of the few castle ruins in the Nara area, and the remains can be seen just west of JR Koriyama Station.

The castle was built in the 16th century but it was dismantled in the Meiji Era. Now only the original moat and castle walls remain. However, a gate and some buildings were restored to show visitors how the castle once looked like.

Koriyama is a center of Japan's goldfish-raising industry. During the 18th century the then Lord of Koriyama Castle introduced goldfish. Samurai and farmers took up the Lord's interest and began cultivating goldfish.

There are many farm ponds in the city area that remind of Koriyama's "Golden Days" when kingyo (goldfish) raising employed many people and brought in heaps of money. Although the industry is in decline, there are still a number of goldfish farms in the city that sell kingyo to customers around the world. ​If you want to know more about goldfish and the history of cultivating goldfish in Koriyama, then check out Koriyama's Goldfish Museum.

A short bus ride away from the station is the Minzoku Hakubutsukan (Folk Museum) where visitors can catch a glimpse of daily life in Nara in the Edo and Meiji Eras. The museum's 20,000 exhibits explain the life of farmers and merchants who once lived in the area.

There is also an open-air area where it is possible to see examples of well-preserved traditional houses. One of the houses is the Iwamoto House, once a farmer's house. Another house open to visitors is Usui House, once a merchant's house.

The museum and open-air museum are located in the 200,000 square meters Yamato Minzoku Park (Yamato Folk Park). This is one of the greenest spots in the city area.

Nearby is also Yata Temple, a rustic temple dating back to 673. Hydrangeas bloom here in the summer. The temple is located on a hill and visitors have to climb some stairs first to get there.

There are actually a few temples and shrines in the city area and it is possible to stay overnight at some of these temples where you are served vegetarian meals.

There are many old-style shops near Koriyama Station where you can see craftsmen and artisans at work. Of course, this is also the place where you can buy nice souvenirs to take home.

All of the sites can be covered in a couple of hours. Visiting Koriyama can be a half-day trip out of Nara City.

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Paul Hackshaw

Paul Hackshaw @paul.hackshaw

I'm 49 years young and come from Auckland, New Zealand. I have now lived in Japan about 25 years, almost the entire time has been spent in the Kansai area. I originally lived in Takamatsu, Kagawa prefecture in 1987 and then moved to Osaka. Spending a few years in Osaka and when I married I moved to South Kyoto/Nara. I have been teaching English at several universities for a few years and since 2007 have been living in Nara. I realised after living here a while that I didn't really know much about the area I have been living in. My usual routine was to go in a straight line between home and work, and a beer on the way home. I have found some great little drinking spots and bars in my travels. Getting involved with Japan Tourist it has offered me the opportunity to go out and explore my neigborhood and to share my adventures as someone who has made Japan my home for 25 years. I hope that through Japan Tourist people will come to see the real Japan and learn a little more about the Nara I have come to know that you won't really learn about in guide books.

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