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.
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 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.