Nara, Japan – While staying in Osaka, my friends and I decided to take a day trip to Nara. The city is located about 20 miles (30km) east of Osaka. You could easily access to Nara via train approximately in an hour (Train ticket = ~$7 USD one-way). Given that it is a small city, there are not many options when it comes to a BJJ academy. NR Jiu-Jitsu is basically the only option for training. In addition, I would like to emphasize that Nara remains my favorite city in Japan
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Nara is a city located in the east of Osaka. The city is known for its historical sites including Tōdai-ji and Kasuga Shrine and its lovely free-roaming deer (Deer are literally everywhere in Nara). Most of tourist attractions are concentrated which is convenient for sightseeing.
Given that Nara is a small city, it was challenging to get to NR Jiu-jitsu. However, the BJJ class offered by NR Jiu-jitsu was worth the distance. The number of students was low, but the skill level of students was notable. There were 4 students in the initial regular technique class I attended. However, once the sparring class started, additional 10 students appeared. The black belt instructor, Koichi Uhara, did not speak English fluently, but his demonstrations were clear for me to understand. Some students spoke English which helped.
The regular class started with warm-ups and covered 4–5 techniques. Given that the class’s duration was one hour, there was no sparring during the class. The sparring session was immediately followed by the regular class. While I was training at NR Jiu-Jitsu, we focused on different sweeps and submissions from Lasso guard.
As previously mentioned, NR Jiu-Jitsu was worth visiting. The head instructor and students were highly skilled considering that it is a small town in Japan. After one of the noteworthy sight-seeing trip in Nara, you should definitely drop by NR Jiu-jitsu to train to complete your day.
On the side note, at the local BJJ competition I attended, I ran into the instructors from NR Jiu-Jitsu and Tri-Force Osaka who welcomed me to the local competition. The BJJ community in Japan was smaller and well-connected than I initially imagined.
NR Jiu-Jitsu is located about 1 mile (1.4km) west from the Nara station in which you can take train from/to Osaka. Unfortunately, there is no public transportation to the gym so I had to walk. The gym was located on the third floor of the brown building that is shown in the picture below. Please be sure to go up past the second floor which was under construction. The second floor looked like a former fitness club so I initially thought that NR Jiu-Jitsu closed, but it is still open! (Google Map: Link)
NR Jiu-jitsu’s facility was basic. The gym was small but was equipped with a clean mat. Unfortunately, it did not have a shower which makes it difficult if you are not staying in Nara for the night.
NR Jiu-Jitsu has a schedule on the website, but as it is in Japanese, I translated the schedule for your convenience below:
FREE — NR Jiu-jitsu does not charge visitors
Things to Do around the Gym
- Tōdai-ji Temple — One of the most famous and historically significant temples in Japan which houses the world’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha.
- Nara Park — Nara’s public park filled with friendly deer who are crazy about rice crackers you can purchase around the park.
- Kasuga-Taisha Shinto Shrine — A Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the Fujiwara clan who was the most powerful family during the Nara and Heian periods. It is famous for its bronze lanterns.