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Asuka is a small region in Nara Prefecture (about 25 kilometers south of Nara City) which had a pivotal role in Japanese history. Lending its name to the Asuka Period (538-710), the Asuka region was the site of Japan's first capitals, from where the early Japanese national character emerged. A few monuments of that period remain, but the area is now mostly fields and rural villages.

Kyoto served as the Japanese capital for over a thousand years from 794 to 1868, and Nara was the first permanent capital from 710 to 784. Before those cities there was Asuka, where the first imperial residences were located. During the period, there was much influence from the Asian mainland, and Buddhism was introduced to the country via the Korean peninsula. The religion took root quickly and had an enormous spiritual and cultural effect on the country.

The remnants of the Asuka Period, that remain in Asuka today, are mostly limited to stone monuments and archaeological excavations. Burial tombs such as the Ishibutai Tomb or the Takamatsuzuka Tomb are preserved in their original state, while artefacts and recreations are on display at museums like the Asuka Museum or the Complex of Manyo Culture. Scattered among the region's villages and fields are also some of Japan's oldest temples.

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What To See

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Tanzan Shrine

Mountain shrine famous for autumn colors.

Visited by
45 users

Asuka Museum

National museum about the history of Asuka.

Visited by
64 users

Amakashi Hill

Hill overlooking Asuka Town and the Yamato Plain.

Visited by
51 users

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Page last updated: January 22, 2015