Friday, April 20, 2012

April colors in Asuka Village

Asuka Village is dyed in pink, yellow, and fresh green in April.

Asuka is one of the places I feel connected to ancient times: the wind I feel on my skin would be the same wind blowing through time and space and the ceaseless flow of the Asuka River connects now to the past. The name Asuka conjures up images of ancient love stories and tragic legends.

 the Asuka River near the Asuka Bridge

Asuka was once the capital of Japan from the late 6th to the early 8th century.  Prior to Nara Period (710-784), wherever the reigning emperor had a palace became the capital.

Buddhism, which was imported from India via China and Korea, was foreign culture and revolutionary change of thought.  It was not only religion but also medicine, science, astronomy, and so on.  It was immigrants from China and Korea who settled in Asuka and led Japan to the great transformation in art, culture, and politics.  Asuka was also the stage for the bitter power struggles. 

around the Ishibutai Burial Mound

This place is outside the Ishibutai Burial Mound, one of Japan's largest burial mounds, which is said to be the tomb of Soga no Umako.  According to some elderly, there was no gate and no fences and they could freely approach to the exposed huge rocks which form the burial chamber's upper portion in the past.  The landscape of huge rocks lying in the vast field of wild flowers must have been awesome.


While most of the legacy of the Asuka Period is buried underground, many ancient burial mounds, ruins of ancient palaces, mysterious stone objects, and sites of temples that no longer stand as well as the several extant temples including the oldest Buddhism temple in Japan, are dotted on the gently rolling hills.

Asuka is noted for the rice terraces.  Rape blossoms and milk vetches bloom here and there till the rice seedlings are planted.

稲淵/Inabuchi district

bounded rice straw

This is one of a pair of sacred ropes hung across the upper Asuka River to receive the fortunes carried down from the upper stream.  Another sacred rope wards off the evil spirit believed to come from the down stream.

Tachibana-dera Temple
Tachibana-dera Temple is one of the several extant temples in Asuka and is believed to be the birthplace of  Prince Shotoku, a regent to the emperor and politician.  He looked to China for political and religious inspiration and succeeded in establishing a centralized government.  He was inspired by Confucian teachings, and taught "Harmony is the greatest of all the virtues.", which is still in the heart of many Japanese people.

the roof of  Tachibana-dera Temple

This is the three storied pagoda of Oka-dera Temple.

Can you spot the pagoda in the mountain?

Visitors can relax and unwind themselves just being in Asuka.  My husband and I didn't enter any temples or historical sites.  We just walked around the area leisurely and had homemade "bento", a box lunch, viewing the scenery and flowers in the soft breeze and sunshine.  Rental cycle and bus services are available.  If you are interested in autumn of Asuka, have a look at Strolling around Asuka.
A few days ago my mother got hospitalized for the pneumonia-like symptoms: yesterday her illness was diagnosed as infective endocarditis, potentially life-threatening one.  She is a green, old woman overcoming two plastic surgeries on her left thigh (at the age of 88) and then right thigh (at 90),   My siblings and I take turn being with her, praying for the best. 


  1. The pictures, especially the first one reminds me of the world of Harada Taiji; it's full of pastoral poetry.
    I like Asuka too.
    Seeing these pictures makes me feel like I was transported back to ancient times.

  2. oh, i am hoping your mother will be okay. poor dear! i know you are worried.

    these are all just masterful photos of an incredible place. i love that pagoda. truly magical...

  3. Oh, I'm so sorry to hear about your mother. My prayers are with you all.

    Your post was exquisitely magical and beautiful!

  4. Again very beautiful and springlike photoghraphs ! :) But sorry to hear about your mother, wish the best for her and for you too =)

  5. Asuka is looking lovely, how interesting that the rape blooms at the same time as here in Italy.

  6. Hello, stardust.

      Your work is embraced in your gentleness.
      And sweet message charms my heart.

      The prayer for all peace.
      I wish You all the best.

    Have a good weekend. ruma ❀

  7. Amazing colours! It looks and feels all fluffy! The rape flowers are almost in full bloom here as well, but we need a bit sun to take good's raining everyday at the moment! :(
    My daughter had a Japanese friend whose name was Asuka (meaning Star, am i right?). She returned to Japan long time ago and they lost touch...
    Hope you have a lovely week end.

  8. Z całego serca życzę Twojej Mamie powrotu do zdrowia. Miej też tylko taką myśl - wyzdrowieje. Asuka pięknie opisałaś, a pierwsze zdjęcie rzepakowych pól i kwitnącej wiśni jest cudowne. Pozdrawiam,
    I sincerely hope your mom back to health. Have also just a thought - get better. About Asuka wrote beautifully, and the first picture of rape fields and blossoming cherry is wonderful. Yours.

  9. I'm joining you in prying for the best of you Mother,Yoko.
    Your post is awesome, as usually and the first photo is simply breathtaking!

  10. I'm sorry to hear about your mother! I wish all of you - your mom, your siblings and yourself - lots of strength to cope.

    This Asuka post and photos are like something from a travel book, or maybe a book about lost legends? That first photo is stunning! I hope the peace and beauty remain with you for a long time!

  11. Dear Yoko, I'm sorry to hear your mother is so ill. I'm glad you had the opportunity to stroll with your husband through this beautiful landscape. It must have calmed your worries a bit. Your focus in the photos is ever-shifting and very creative. Take care.

  12. Last year on the way back from Inabuchi to the station, I dropped at Ishibutai. I felt as if I had been taken back to the ancient days! Especially first photo reminds me of its history, glory and tragedy, though it was the comfortable spring day.
    Rape blossoms are just gorgeous.

  13. Fantastic to see!
    Very nice work!
    Love all the colors and the pagoda in the middle!
    Have a nice weekend
    Yvonne & Raphael

  14. The yellow blooms surrounding the rice straw are stunning to see, as is your softly hued first photo that looks like a painting. The bound rice straw reminds me of the bales of hay we have here in Canada. You said it beautifully about the wind and rivers flowing in the present as they did in the past. These things connect us to something that is timeless. I wish the best for your mom and for all those she holds dear.

  15. ♫♫°º
    Olá, amiga!
    Estou encantada com tanta beleza, imagino o perfume das flores no ar e o canto dos pássaros... esse lugar é um paraíso.
    Bom fim de semana!
    º° ✿¸.•°❤

  16. 広い広い菜の花畑の遥か彼方に見える塔、白たんぽぽ、散りはいじめた桜、、、。すべて懐かしさを感じます。良い日に良いときを過ごされましたね。

  17. I'm sorry to hear that your dear mother is not in good health. I really hope she will get well soon! Please take good care of her and yourself as well.

    The photos you took in Asuka-mura are so beautiful! The Nanohana-yellow is shining bright and it made me feel so good. I once visited Asuka and stayed at a private house providing lodging and meals. My family and I also walked around the village just like you. Oh Asuka, our spiritual home! Thank you so much for this lovely post!

  18. I haven't seen very often photographs taken with the heart, instead of a camera... Yours are like that, Yoko, and these ones in particular.
    Asuka has a beauty that almost makes you cry and maybe it's easy to catch it since it's generously spreading all around. But you've captured more, much more than spectacular nature picture. I feel you've captured Asuka's very spirit in its timeless flow: deep and pure, silent and melancholic... a generous corner of heaven. I can understand why Prince Shotoku felt inspired and taught "Harmony is the greatest of all virtues".

    I am very sorry to hear about your mother! I wish you both strength and energy to get through this difficulty and grow well really soon.
    Take good care of yourself and have good days ahead!

  19. Lovely photos and history of Asuka and the Ishibutai Burial Mound. We have a few white dogwood blossoms falling here, but not nearly as many as your pink cherry blossoms there. Very sorry to hear of your mother's illness. Hope she does well. Husband and I attended services 2 days ago, for his sister who passed after a long illness.

  20. First I hope that your mother will be OK.
    Your pictures are beautiful the trees, yellow flowers and petals all lovely.

  21. Asuka village is wonderful, so surreal... it actually looks like a colorful painting! Very beautifully you have captured it, Yoko. The rice fields remind me of the fields that we have in the hilly regions of India like the Himalayan mountains. They look exactly the same! The hanging of the sacred ropes was a very interesting custom to know.

    I am very sorry to hear about your mother. Keeping her in my prayers and wishing for her super speedy recovery. Hope she gets well soon. Take care.

  22. Hello Yoko, I was told about your blog from Wanda. Your photos are so beautiful and poetic. I love the cherry trees. I have got a little cherry tree forest nearby.
    My son is very interested in Japan and he has awoken my interest too.

    I hope your mother will be well. I wish her back to a good health.
    I have had a bad pneumonia myself two years ago and I'm well again. I'm almost 80.

    Best wishes
    from Denmark.

  23. 私も45年前に石舞台いきました。周りになにもなくて巨大な岩だけで、それにのぼったりしてあそびました。後でお墓だときいてびっくりしました。飛鳥は古代歴史の懐ですね。又訪ねてみます。

  24. I love the first photo, it's just so magical and dreamy! Hope your mom feels better :)

  25. I'm so sorry to hear about your mother! My thoughts and best wishes are with you and your family. It is wonderful that she is surrounded by the light of the family!

    I've not heard, due to my ignorance, of Asuka, but obviously it was once a most important place! Thank you again for all the historical information - that is so interesting and helpful to understand what Asuka means to the Japanese people.

    I wonder if the treasures beneath the soil will ever be dislodged by archaeologists? Perhaps it is best to let them be?

    Your photos, as always, are priceless and reflect so well the glorious beauty of Asuka.

  26. I do very much hope your mother will regain her health soon. It is worrying when relatives are old.

    I think this looks like the most beautiful place. Admiring your pictures, I realised that in the English countryside there is never that combination of brilliant yellow and dusky pink. It is really wonderful.

  27. Beautiful and informative photos Yoko.The first is really lovely and subtle,the light looks so different in your part of Japan.Interesting about the history of the area,I hadn't thought about it but it seems to have been the case in Europe too that the King's main palace of residence was designated as the capital.

    My best wishes for your mother's improved health and comfort.

  28. Hi Yoko
    Such a beautiful place - I hope I can visit some day.

    I am sorry to hear about your mother - my best wishes.

    Take care, Ev

  29. Lowell - Some treasures seem to have been stolen by the thieves of the Middle Ages. The thieves don’t seem to have been interested in some things like murals, which is in full color with red, blue, gold,and silver. The excavated things are displayed at museum or buried again after careful examinations.

  30. Sorry to hear about your mother, I sincerely hope she will be all right. I'm sending all my good thaughts.

    I love the photos of this post. What a wonderful place. The scenery is breathtaking, and the abundance of flowers is just beautiful. It looks like the perfect place to visit, also with the interesting history.
    Thanks for showing us around, Yoko :)

  31. Your eye never fails, but with the huge choice of views you have, how could it.

    I am sorry your mother is ill, I hope all will be well.

  32. such a fantastic trip dear yoko! the yeloow in your pics have such an relaxing effct on me...and Yes, I did spotted the pagoda:-)) sunny greetings from colourful tulipland!

  33. all my best wishes for your mother recovery! I am sending positive flowe energy her and your way!

  34. I'm so sorry to hear about your mother's illness, Yoko! I hope everything will be all right.

  35. My dear friend Yoko
    I'm very sorry for your mama.
    I saw your wonderful spring photos and I thought the most beautiful spring is in Japan!!!!
    Wonderful colors, promenade and the pagoda in the background!!!!
    Thank you so mauch for wonderful walk!
    Many greetings an kisses

  36. My thoughts are with you while your mother is so ill. I am hoping that she will have a fast recovery, so that she too can enjoy the beautiful colours and traditions of spring in Asuka. You have shown some lovely sights. I would love to visit japan one day.

  37. First, I'm sending you healing thoughts and hoping your mum feels better soon.

    Second - thank you so much for sharing all these marvellous beauty! That temple with the shiny floor is lovely as are the peonies.

  38. How do I comment on your blog post about peonies? I just want to say wonderful! And that I wonder if my single peony from last summer is still alive. The snow disappeared recently.

  39. Such beauty! What a pleasure to see spring through your eyes. Sorry to hear about your mother. It is so difficult to watch as those we love age.

  40. Soft, beautiful pictures! I hope your mother is doing well.

  41. What a beautiful walk around the area. Soft and inviting. The desert is tricky as it is spiky and at times hostile:) I especially the shot of the yellow against the landscape. Lovely. It was great hearing from you today. Enjoy your time with your mother and take advantage of your mother feeling well:)

  42. Hello, stardust.

      Colors of green and petal is fused.
    The work including spring.
      The vitality of the heart is made to arise.

      I am glad of your visit, though each other is far distantly.
      The prayer for all peace and healthy.
    Have a good weekend. From Japan, ruma ❃

  43. All your posts are so wonderful.

  44. Amazing pictures! They really transported me to Asuka!

  45. I really like your descriptions and pictures, which are so vivid!
    I think I will have to add Asuka village to my list of places that I need to see when I visit Japan some day...

  46. WOW! This is majestic. I would like to visit Japan but if I do, I don't want to be in the city. I'd rather be in such villages as beautiful as this. I really do love beautiful, clean nature. The temple simply look stunning with that view from afar.

  47. Dear Yoko each part of your country looks magical!

    in my current busy life when i think about a part of my life ahead (if there is one ) when i will have more time for myself i think i will all the books and travel to places (if i could)
    and one more thing that i have kept in my mind since i found you online that i will come to your blog and will explore more and more beauty of your land hopefully !
    i am so sorry about your dear mom dear Yoko !

    she is in my thoughts and prayers ,i wish pray may she get well soon,amen!!!!


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