The Yamanobe Road山辺の道
The oldest road in the country is ideal for hiking, lined with ancient burial mounds and remains of old temples.
The Yamanobe Road runs along the eastern edge of the Nara Basin. It is the oldest recorded road in Japan because it is mentioned in the history book entitled "Nihon Shoki" (The Chronicles of Japan) compiled in the 8th century. The old road is said to have connected Nara and Sakurai, traces of which can still be seen in the 15-kilometer-long section between Isonokami and Sakurai.
Isonokami-jingu Shrine is located at Isonokami, in the central part of Tenri City. It is one of the oldest shrines in the area, and it is said that the shrine had already been dedicated to the powerful Mononobe clan prior to the mid-7th century. The Mononobe clan conducted military affairs in the ancient government, and thus the shrine also served as kind of an arms stockyard. Many ancient arms still remain at the shrine, such as shields and swords, including the Isonokami-jingu Nanatsusaya-no-tachi, (seven-branched sword), a sword with three blades branching out on each side of a central blade.
Many temples and shrines, and ancient burial mounds are located alongside the road in the country, including the gigantic 240-meter-long keyhole-shaped burial mound devoted to the Emperor Sujin. You can buy fresh fruit and vegetables from unmanned shops along the road, where you just drop your payment in a box and choose what you like. Enjoy talking to some of the local residents as you hike along the road.
Sakurai City is a major transportation junction, and this market town has developed since early times. The Abe-monju-in Temple, which enshrines the Monju-Bosatsu of Wisdom and Intellect, and Mt. Miwa-yama, where a mountain god has been worshiped since the ancient times, are also found in the city.
From Tokyo :
[Rail] 2h 15 min to Kyoto Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line (Nozomi), and 45 min from Kyoto to Nara Station by JR Nara Line (rapid service). 13 min from Nara to Tenri Station by JR Sakurai Line.
*It takes 2h 45 min from Tokyo to Kyoto Station by Hikari Shinkansen.
From Osaka :
[Rail] 55 min from Kintetsu Namba via Yamato-Saidaiji or Hirahata to Kintetsu Tenri Station by Kintetsu Nara Line.