Tsukumo showcases Nara’s far-flung history

The Japanese restaurant Tsukumo opened near Nara Station in 2015 and relocated in 2021. Its current site is a 30-minute walk from the station and 25 minutes from Kintetsu Nara Station, an area that is home to many of the most outstanding sightseeing attractions in Nara.

Located on a corner of Naramachi-dori, a street lined with traditional houses, some dating back to the Edo Period, Tsukumo is a detached structure brimming with the aesthetic sensibility of chef Masato Nishihara, who has a deep love for traditional Japanese culture. The restaurant, which has seven counter seats, four table seats and one private room, is run by Nishihara together with okami (proprietress) Tomoko Nishihara and a small kitchen staff. The omakase set menu, priced anywhere from ¥25,000 to ¥35,000 ($170 to $240) for both lunch and dinner depending on the ingredients purchased that day, is based on changing monthly themes.

The succession of dishes is not only delicious and visually beautiful, but also richly evocative of Nara’s history. Nishihara honed his craft at Japanese restaurants in New York and London as well as Japan, acquiring an international sensibility along the way. “Nara is an international city that gathered objects from overseas via the Silk Road since ancient times. I really enjoy creating dishes that combine these elements with the adventure and romance of encounters between ancient and modern,” he said.

At many traditional Japanese restaurants — including Kyoto Kitcho Arashiyama, where Nishihara started training and worked for a decade — apprentices have learned not only about cuisine and serving vessels, but about Japanese traditional culture as a whole. With the continuing decline in the number of traditional restaurants, the work of chefs like Nishihara has become especially significant.

968, Kideracho, Nara, Nara

Makoto Yamashita

I would like to congratulate Tsukumo for being selected for this prestigious recognition.

Tsukumo offers cuisine inspired by Nara’s history, culture and nature, and also promotes the appeal of ingredients from Nara Prefecture by using ingredients cultivated in the area’s lush climate. I truly hope that more restaurants in Nara will offer such delicious food, with more opportunities for young chefs to take on new challenges, leading to the promotion of the use of local ingredients and the revitalization of the community.

Gen Nakagawa
Mayor of Nara

I am very proud that Tsukumo has been selected as one of 10 prestigious restaurants and also that it is attracting worldwide attention. Nara, with its long history, is the birthplace of Japan’s culinary culture, and many wonderful restaurants are now being established in the city. Tsukumo offers an “experience” where you can feel the climate, history, scenery, air and colors of Nara through its cuisine, and you can truly taste Nara. I hope that such wonderful restaurants will gain more recognition and spread their wings to the rest of the world.

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