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Asuka village

Asuka villageMap of Asuka areaAsuka village ("Asuka-mura" in Japanese) is a village located at the south end of Nara Basin.
It is located about 30 km south of Nara city.

Before the Japanese capital was set up in Nara city, here was the capital in Japan.
It was the period from the late 6th century to the early 8th century.
During the period, many scattered local villages ruled by strong family were unified gradually, and a state governed by Emperor was formed.
So this area has many ancient burial mounds as the tomb of the emperors in the period.

Additionally, Asuka was the area where people had been living since much earlier period.
So here is the important ruin of the earliest days of Japan.

The main area is on the east side of Kintetsu Minami-Osaka Line between Kashihara-jingu-mae and Tsubosakayama stations, and is designated as "Asuka Historical National Government Park".
It is about 5 km from north to south and about 3 km from east to west.

The area has gently undulating hills, and many ancient burial mounds, ruins and temples are dotted.
To tour around this area, rental bicycle is available.
Main entrance points are Kashihara-jingu station or Asuka station of Kintetsu Line, and there are several shops of rental bicycle.
A route bus runs. The terminal stops are also Kashihara-jingu station and Asuka station, and it runs through central route of this area.

In this area, there are not so many restautants, cafes and shops.
So when you tour around this area, you had better provide drinks and box lunch in advance.

Asuka Historical National Government Park official website
Asuka village official website

Takamatsuzuka Tomb /1/

Takamatsuzuka Tomb It is a circular burial mound, and was constucted around 700.
The diameters are 23 meters at the lower part and 18 meters at the upper part, and the height is 5 meters.
Colorful wall paintings were found inside the stone chamber in 1972, then it had been in the spotlight.
It is thought that this was the tomb of a person in a very high position.
To preserve the valuable wall paintings, the stone chamber is scheduled to be repaired until 2017.

Ishibutai Tomb /2/

Ishibutai Tomb It is an ancient tomb constructed with about 30 huge stones.
The overall shape is nearly a cuboid, and there is a burial chamber in it. We can enter the chamber.
The stones were carried from a mountain, about 3 km away from here. (The total weight of the stones is over 2,300 tons.)
It is thought that this was the tomb of Soga-no-Umako (551?-626), a strong politician in that period.

Asukadera temple /3/

Asukadera temple It is the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan.
It was founded around the end of the 6th century by Soga-no-Umako.
In the 8th century, the temple was moved to Nara city as Gangoji, but the buildings were remained.
Since that, this temple had declined, but current temple were rebuilt in 1825 by a donor in Osaka.
The copper principal image created in the 7th century is called "Asuka-Daibutsu".

Asuka Historical Museum /4/

Asuka Historical Museum It is the museum in which many excavated articles and its replicas from Asuka area are displayed.
It is a museum of the Nara Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
We can know the outline of Asuka Period.

Asuka Historical Museum Fan Club

Popular spots around Takamatsuzuka Tomb

  • Saru-ishi /11/ : Four stone statues with funny faces set up near the Tomb of Princess Kibihime (?-643).
    They were found around the Tomb of Emperor Kinmei (509-571) in 1702, and were moved to here later.
    "Saru-ishi" means "stones of monkeys". They look like monkeys.
  • Oni-no-Manaita /12/ : Remains of large stone like a table.
    The length is about 4.5 meters, the width is about 2.7 meters, and the thickness is about 1 meter.
    "Oni-no-Manaita" means "Devil's cutting board". It had been said that a devil ate people after cooking on this board.
    It is thought that it was a part of a tomb.
  • Oni-no-Setchin /13/ : Remains of large stones near Oni-no-Manaita.
    "Oni-no-Setchin" means "Devil's lavatory". It had been said that the devil relieved nature here.
    It is thought that it was a part of the tomb same as Oni-no-Manaita.
  • Kame-ishi /14/ : A large stone sculptured like a tortoise. "Kame-ishi" means literally "Stone of tortoise".
    It is unknown when and why this monument was created.
    But this is popular for its humorous style.

Popular spots around Ishibutai Tomb

  • Tachibanadera temple /21/ : A Buddhist temple of Tendai school.
    It is said that Prince Shotoku (574-622) was born near this temple, and he founded this temple.
    The first temple was very large, but it had declined since the 12th century.
    Main temple was rebuilt in 1864, and the statue of Prince Shotoku has been enshrined.
  • Okadera temple /22/ : A Buddhist temple of Shingon school.
    It is said that it was founded in the late 7th century.
    There are many buildings in the precincts, and some of them were rebuilt in the 17-19th centuries.

Popular spots around Asukadera

  • Den-Asuka Itabuki-no-miya Ruin /31/ : The ruin of the central palace in the capital of Asuka.
    Around this, the central buildings were set up as the government of Asuka.
    This was the ruin of Itabuki-no-miya palace, and was set up from 643 to 645.
    Empress Kougyoku (594-661) lived here as the new empress, but Soga-no-Iruka, her close aide, was killed in front of her in 645. It was an important coup, and was a turning point in Japanese history.
  • Sakafune-ishi /32/ : A stonework on a hill.
    On the upper surface of a large and flat stone, some dishes and grooves are carved.
    Some say that it was a tool to make sake, and the other say that it was a tool to make medicine.
    Around this stone, various stoneworks had been found since 2000.
  • Asuka-ni-imasu Shrine /33/ : A Shinto shrine.
    It is unknown that when shrine was founded, but it is true that it existed in 686, and an ancient book says that this shrine was moved to here in 829.
    From the ancient times, this shrine was worshiped as the god of the harmony of married couples.
    So many stones like parts of male and female are enshrined in the precincts.
  • Soga-no-Iruka Kubizuka /34/ : An old monument of stones.
    When Soga-no-Iruka was killed in Itabuki-no-miya palace, it is said that his severed hear flew to here.
    It is said that it was built in the 14th century.
  • Amakashi-no-Oka hill /35/ : A small hill located northwest of Asuka area.
    The highest point is at the level of 148 meters, and there is an observatory on the hill.
    We can enjoy the view of Asuka.
Scenic or Nature / Park or Garden / Resort / City, Town or Village / Quarter or Street /
Temple or Shrine / Museum or Laboratory / Market or Commercial facility / Factory /
Other Building or Construction / Historic place / Remains / World Heritage Site

How to get to here

By railroad

By Kintestsu Yoshino Line, get off at Asuka station or Kashihara-jingu station.

Takamatsuzuka Tomb One of the wall paintings in Takamatsuzuka
Ishibutai Tomb Inside of Ishibutai Tomb
Asukadera Daibutsuden in Asukadera
Asuka-Daibutsu Asuka Historical Museum
Saru-ishi Oni-no-Manaita
Oni-no-Setchin Kame-ishi
Tachibanadera Okadera
Den-Asuka Itabuki-no-miya Ruin Sakafune-ishi
Other stoneworks around Sakafune-ishi Asuka-ni-imasu Shrine
Soga-no-Iruka Kubizuka A view of Asuka from Amakashi-no-Oka

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