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June 22, 2017 - Asuka & Sakurai - Nara Prefecture
For today's post, I visited some of the local attractions which can be found around Asuka and Sakurai. As this location is known as the cradle of Japanese civilization, there are plenty of small museums and countless tombs (I really mean that!) which could keep a history buff interested for days. It should also be noted that in general there is good english signage around Asuka and the surrounds.
The long list of locations visited today (in order) include:
(1) Ishibutai Tomb (250 yen entry)
(2) Tanzan Shrine (600 yen)
(3) Omiwa Shrine
(4) Chogakuji Temple (350 yen)
(5) Emperor Sojun Tomb
(6) Isonokami Shrine
(7) Asuka Temple (350 yen)
My first stop of for this post (last of the previous day) was Ishibutai Tomb, which costs 250 yen to enter. As it was late, I did not enter the tomb as it was closed. Do note that there is a large number of tombs and museums within walking or bike riding distance from this location. Asuka is a fantastic place to ride a bike around (bikes can be hired opposite the station)
My second stop for the day was the highly impressive Tanzan Shrine which costs 600 yen to enter. Apart from being an excellent location for autumn colours, this shrine is famous for the 13 tier pagoda which can be seen below.
Unlike most temples and many shrines, photos were allowed inside the main sanctum. If this shrine feels as though it used to be a temple - well that's because it used to be before the Meiji restoration broke up Shinto and Buddhism.
My next stop was the pretty Omiwa Shrine, which is sometimes called the oldest shrine in Japan. It's also the start of the Yamanobe-no-michi Trail which runs for roughly 11 kms.
It should be noted that there are lots of small shrines located close to the first shrine.
Once you leave Omiwa Shrine, there are a plethora of signposts for people who wish to walk the Yamanobe-no-michi Trail.
A fair distance from Omiwa Shrine is Chogakuji Temple which costs 350 yen to enter. This pretty temple also includes a nice garden and the pictures don't really do it justice. It should be noted that it is a little difficult to find this temple from the main road if you are driving. I did not walk today due to the amount of locations visited.
Located close to the previous temple is the Emperor Sojun Tomb, one of the larger tombs in the Sakurai area. There are many of these tombs in the local vicinity, but they are nothing compared to the huge one which is found in Sakai (found below Osaka).
The last shrine I visited for the day was Isonokami Shrine, which is quite leafy like the rest of this general area. Do note that it is much cooler in the shrine grounds compared to the general area around (shade and lack of concrete).
My last stop for the day was Asuka Temple, which has the oldest Buddha statue in Japan. I think your starting to get the pattern - this area is old! It costs 350 yen to enter.
As mentioned above, there is plenty to do around this location which has been missed due to general lack of time. It would be easy to spend 3-4 days here and you would still not see everything. This location is also a great place to wind down - if you let yourself!
For tomorrow, I'll be visiting Imaicho Town before catching a plane up to Hokkaido.
Asuka Tourism Bureau: http://www.asukamura.jp/english/ (English)