Tanzan Shrine (談山神社, Tanzan Jinja) is located in the mountains south of central Sakurai and to the east of the Asuka region. It enshrines Fujiwara Kamatari, the founder of the powerful Fujiwara family, who exerted enormous political influence and essentially governed the country for most of the Heian Period (794-1185).
Visitors may feel that the shrine seems more like a temple, and indeed for most of its existence it was. Originally known as Tonomine Temple, it was converted into a shrine during the Meiji Period (1868-1912), when the government made efforts separating and emancipating Shinto from Buddhism as Japan's state religion.
About one hundred steps lead from the torii gate at the shrine's entrance to the main cluster of buildings on the hillside. At the top of the steps stands a unique 13 story pagoda, which was built in 1532 during the Muromachi Period and stands 17 meters tall. To the right is a complex of buildings that includes the shrine's main hall and an open balcony that is one of the most attractive spots on the shrine grounds, particularly during the autumn color season.
Tanzan Shrine is a famous spot for viewing autumn leaves, and becomes quite crowded when the colors reach their peak usually in the second half of November. There are also many food stands and shops lining the approach to the shrine, offering various foods and products to the shrine's visitors.