Tour many historic spots along scenic country roads. A beautiful and culturally important location of the Nara region.
Asuka is the area in the wide southern part of the Yamato Basin in Nara Prefecture. As early as the 5th to 6th century, the area developed as a vital transportation center, and a capital city was built and remained there until early 8th century. Old burial mounds and historic sites of cultural importance are scattered throughout the calm and tranquil rural scenery. Indeed, Asuka can be said to be the spiritual hometown of the Japanese mind.
In Asuka there is a huge stone stage mound built from about 30 large stones. The burial chamber is 7.5 meters long, 3 meters wide and 7.7 meters deep, and the weight of the stones is about 2,300 tons in total, making it the largest mound of this kind in Japan. It is known as a cave-type stone chamber, and is widely believed that the chamber was dedicated to Soga-no-Umako, a man of power in the 6th century, for use as his tomb. Another spot to visit in Asuka is the old Takamatsuzuka burial mound. It was excavated in 1972, and became widely known for its murals depicting the Four Gods, including the White Tiger of the West, as well as a group of women and constellations, all in full color.
There are quite a few old temples in the area, including Asuka-dera Temple which is said to have been the first full-scale temple in Japan. In the 6th century Soga-no-Umako invited artisans from the ancient kingdom of Paekche in the Korean Peninsula to construct this temple. Also found are the remnants of a palace where an Emperor assumed the throne, and stone structures whose purposes are still unknown. We often say that the Asuka area itself is "floating on the remnants." Along the roadsides flowers such as 'renge-so' (Chinese milk vetch) in spring and 'higan-bana' (lycoris radiate) in fall can be seen, adding the final touch to the charming rural scenery. Many people enjoy touring the old remains while riding on rent-a-cycles.
From Tokyo :
[Rail] 2h 15 min to Kyoto Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line (Nozomi), and 1h from Kyoto to Kashihara-jingu-mae Station by Kintetsu Kyoto Line (limited express). 4 min from the station to Asuka Station by Kintetsu Yoshino Line.
*It takes 2h 45 min from Tokyo to Kyoto Station by Hikari Shinkansen.
From Osaka :
[Rail] 40 min from Abenobashi to Asuka Station by Kintetsu Minami-Osaka Line (limited express).