Nara puts more emphasis on food tourism


Japan’s Nara Prefecture is stepping up its food and beverage-related offerings ahead of hosting the 7th UNWTO Global Gastronomy Forum in June 2022.

The event is expected to be a catalyst in the development of central Kansai’s food tourism, and local stakeholders are working hard to ensure the prefecture maximizes the opportunity to showcase itself to the world.

The 2022 International Food Tourism Symposium in January boosted the intensification of food tourism in Nara

Efforts include developing or expanding authentic, traditional, and innovative culinary experiences, as well as activities such as visiting local producers, attending food festivals, and attending cooking classes.

Gurutto Auberge, which literally means Traveling Inns, is an initiative to entice visitors to stay at a French-style Auberge – a restaurant that focuses on food but also offers accommodation. It now offers 12 establishments.

Yoshiaki Tanaka, deputy director of MICE promotion at the Nara prefectural government, said the initiative aims to “promote the creation of local life through food, the development of guided tours and the use of products local farmers”.

A new booklet Gastronomic Walkshowcases 47 places for foodies in the Yamanobe-no-Michi district of Nara, such as restaurants, souvenir shops and places offering food and drink experiences.

The developments build on Nara’s successful hosting of the 2022 International Food Tourism Symposium in January, where nearly 400 people attended a hybrid event themed around achieving sustainable regional tourism using “food x comfort x travel”.

Businesses are tapping into increased domestic demand for the region’s unique foods and beverages, especially local sake and ingredients.

As the heart of ancient Japan, Nara has long been famous for sake. Now, the breweries invite visitors to culinary experiences as well as sake tours and tastings.

Namakura Sake has private rooms where seasonal dishes and sake from all over Nara are served.

At the JW Marriott Hotel Nara, which opened in Spring 2020, Nara ingredients are used with local and international techniques to create fusion cuisine at Silk Road Dining.

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