Monday, October 8, 2012

On a sunny autumn day at Inabuchi, Asuka village

Asuka was the capital of Japan as the home to Japan’s ruling imperial court at the end of the sixth century.  It was during this time when Japan absorbed  much of the culture and administrative methodology of China and Korea.  Many villagers of Asuka were from the Korean peninsula. The region is a small basin encircled by small misty mountains, hills, and the winding Asuka river flows the center of it.

In the land of farming, the water of the Asuka River was used for irrigation, while the occasional flooding brought rich, fertile agricultural soil. 

The water has flowed ceaselessly from the ancient times connecting the past with the present.

At the upper Asuka River in the Inabuchi district, there are stepping-stones which have been laid by the local people to cross the river since the ancient times.   Whenever the stones were washed away in flodding, new stones were replaced in a long history.

As a historical fact, 南淵請安, Minabuchi no Shoan, lived around there.  He was a monk studying abroad as a Japanese envoy to Sui and Tang dynasties China.  When he started a school on his return,  中大兄皇子 (Crown Prince Naka no Oe) and 中臣鎌足 (Nakatomi no Kamatari) learned Confucianism there.  It is thought that the two of them conspired to defeat the Soga clan, which "monopolized the position of 大臣 (Great Royal Chieftain) and was the first of many families to dominate the Imperial court by influencing the order of succession and government policy", on their way to Minabuchi.  The defeat of the Soga clan led to 大化の改新 (Taika Reforms, 645) which brought about greater centralization and enhancing the power of the imperial court.

Crown Prince Naka no Oe and Nakatomi no Katamari would have walked on the stepping-stones to see Minabuchi.
Inabuchi district is noted for terraced paddies.  The spread of beautiful terraced paddies is seen as the old heart of Japan.

The different scenic expression of the terraced paddies from season to season is one of the greatest attractions of the Asuka village.  In autumn, it is 彼岸花, Cluster amaryllis, or Lycoris radiata, on the footpats beween the paddies.

Ready for reaping.
All the Japanese Higanbana is triploid form.  “The triploid forms are sterile, and reproduce only vegetatively, via bulbs. The Japanese triploids are genetically uniform. It has been suggested that they were introduced into Japan from China along with rice cultivation.” (Wikipedia)   They are unable to produce seeds.  It is thought that some bulbs from China have spread throughout Japan by separating the bulbs.  Higanbana could have spread to all Japan from this Asuka village.


 This is one of some Manyo poems in which the stepping-stones of the Asuka appear.
Authour unknown, 
万葉集 (Manyoshu Anthology, 8th century)  11-2701

Meaning:  I’ll cross the Asuka River by the stepping-stones to see you tomorrow again, like “asu (tomorrow)” of the name “Asu-ka”.   I’m alwlays thinking of you  and I don’t think we are separted like the stepping-stones.  (I love you so!)

In the Manyo poems, these stones often imply a (secret) date or emotional distance of two lovers.

Autumn of Asuka with more information about Higanbana:  Strolling around Asuka


  1. With the exception of the red flowers and terraced fields your photos could have been taken in one of our lovely valleys in my region of Germany as well, dear Yoko. We have many picturesque valleys and creeks in the southern part of Germany, you certainly have to come back to my homecounty to explore more than the famous tourist destinations! :-)
    A pleasure to see you enjoy your autumn time by undertaking trips to the countryside.

  2. Oh, those colours! Blue autumn sky, golden rice, red higanbana, silver water in sunlight falling at a lower angle. Your post has just proved yet again why autumn is the best season of them all.

    It was a beautiful walk in such a tranquil environment. Thank you! ^^

  3. Oh the red spider lilies are in all their glory in Asuka-mura! I didn't know that the village has so many higanana flowers in autumn! Isn't the village also famous for Renge flowers in spring? When I visited the village a long time ago, the rice paddies there were tinged with a lovely pink!! Your photos are fabulous as always! Thank you so much for this beautiful post!


    1. 私の知る限りでは、石舞台周辺、岡寺周りの田んぼにはレンゲがたくさん咲いていましたが、最近は減っているようですよ。 今年の春はレンゲより菜の花がよく目につきました。明日香村は特別用途地域であり、特別な建築条例があるようです。

  4. Hi Yoko,
    thank you very much for making me so pleasantly enjoy, my senses have breathed your wonderful Autumn ... lovely! what colors!
    I felt the cool breeze and the smell of the countryside.
    Your photos are like a Dream of Kurosawa!

    Domo arigato

  5. The wonder of nature is that it recycles itself and has no conventional style or fashion that makes each era recognizable from the other. The same water we wade in today and seedlings we step on were also beneath the feet of historic characters. Ancient poets and princes must have all marveled at the autumn colors captured in your photographs. :)

  6. こんばんは。 美しい田園風景と飛び石と万葉集と大化の改新という歴史物語が織り込まれてとても素敵です。

  7. What a peaceful and very beautiful river basin valley Yoko. The sun twinkling on the river, the lovely combination of red amaryllis offset against the beautifully terraced rice paddies. It all makes for a very serene and happy scene.

  8. Hi,Stardust,

  9. What a beautiful place. I loved the red color of Higanbana against the field of green rice paddies are breathtaking. I hope one day I can visit this place but in the mean time I can enjoy it through your post.

  10. 稲淵の段々畑は知ってましたが、飛び石の飛鳥川なんてどこにあっつたかしら。そういえば写真ではよく見ますが。明日香村を訪れるまで実感はなかったのですが、懐が、深いです。

  11. i just love the stepping stones that have been placed for generations. the amaryllis is gorgeous in the paddies! such a gorgeous area! thank you for sharing it with us.

  12. What stunning shots of this gorgeous countryside!

  13. Oh, you also visited Asuka!! I missed Asuka River. How beautiful your photos of the river are! Your blog made me feel like going to Asuka again!I went after the typhoon, so I imagined the flowers and rice would have fallen down. But I found they were very strong. Whenever I read ancient poems, I wish I could mention a poem.

  14. Ciekawa historia z kamieniami układanymi w rzece. Amarylisy wśród pól ryżowych wyglądają niesamowicie. Czerwone amarylisy i pola ryżowe, to tak jak u nas zboża i czerwone maki. Pozdrawiam serdecznie.
    Interesting story with stones laid in the river. Amarylisy among rice fields look amazing. Red amarylisy and rice fields, it is like in our corn and red poppies. Yours sincerely.

  15. You have the most beautiful photos---and I learn so much from your posts!

  16. Very beautiful area. It is really something to think of the water ways and all the centuries they have flowed :-)

  17. All the shades of green with those startling splashes of red make me smile. Such a lovely place to walk and remember the history of the landscape. Happy fall!

  18. Oh, how very beautiful this region is. Land that goes back a millennium and more, which has been cultivated century after century, shows the hand of man at its gentlest, most kind. Land which hasn't been raped and spoiled by the greed of man retains its wonders for all to enjoy.

  19. 水流の音が聞こえるような静かで穏やかな風景ですね。長い稲穂が秋のさ中を象徴しています。石舞台の辺りは何度か訪れましたが、明日香も広いですね。万葉集の歌、心情のよく表れた面白い歌だと思いました。ありがとうございます。

  20. Hello, Yoko!
    It's been awhile since I last visited you and I longed for your pictures and stories... I feel that Asuka village really is the old heart of Japan. And how beautifully she lived up to this age! If I ever had the chance to go to Japan in this life, Asuka would be the one place I would chose to see.
    The river with its silent stepping stones must have seen and heard so much, sheltering the silent stories of those living and working hard on these lands. In my country's old wisdom we have a saying "the Man sanctifies the Place" which I believe is perfectly appropriate for this piece of heaven called Asuka. There are many beautiful places in the world but so very few in which man and nature co-exist so harmoniously!...
    I love Japan's autumn seen through your pictures!

    My best of wishes and have sunny days ahead, dear friend!

  21. p.s. Even the scarecrow has such a childish, waggish face as if its purpose is not to scare but to cheer the birds and all those passing by.

  22. Beautiful scenery and flowers. What a wonderful series.

  23. I love those stepping stones amid the beautiful river basin and all the history and the poem associated with it. The stones, I feel, give a different dimension to the overall beauty of the place. All your pictures along with your words are so tranquil and beautiful that I am longing to be back in Japan right away :)

  24. 私も飛鳥に行ってました。早朝の甘樫丘から見る朝もやの水墨画の世界を堪能していました。その前に拡がる黄金色の田も美しいものでした。飛鳥川の飛び石、気が付かなかったですね。さすが目の付け所が違いますね。橋ではなくて、飛び石。その昔の恋人たちを繋ぐ石。ロマンがありますね。

  25. Glorious post, Yoko....a celebration of the beauty of nature and it's historical value to your country and it's people. Lovely photos.

  26. Rivers are amazing,they flow on through the centuries,changing subtly as they go. I love the quality of the greens and reds in the landscape.....beautifully photographed.
    Looks like a magical time in this part of the world!


  27. Thats a wonderful set of images, Yoko!
    The red flowers resemble satellites. How gorgeous! And the scarecrow is a funny one!
    Cheers my dear!

  28. Preciosas flores y el riachuelo me gusto muchísimo. Bss

  29. 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 day. ruma ❀

  30. ♪彡♪♫°¸.•♫°`
    Paisagens alegres e encantadoras.
    Bom fim de semana!

  31. Your stories and pictures tempt me to visit Japan more and more. So serene! By the way, I've updated the post on Livraria Lello after your comment, have you seen it?

  32. dear Yoko, how wonderful and relaxing, I can almost smell the green outdoor, happy new week from me+wet tulipland...

  33. This is such a beautiful post with its rich tapestry of history and culture. Love the images of Asuka village with its paddy fields, rippling river, stepping stones and beautiful red flowers. Your posts are always so fascinating.

  34. What an utterly gorgeous basin...the flora and the rocks and the water and the colors...they all meld together so beautifully. Love the historical commentary, also. And that scarecrow! I wonder if those things ever work. I remember a vice-principal at a school where I worked put up faux owls to scare off the pigeons. The next morning when I arrived a pigeon was sitting on the faux owl's head!

    Hope all is well with you and yours. We're going to lunch today with Tsurumi and her husband. She has been on your site and believes it is lovely and makes her a wee bit homesick although she's lived in the US for years.

  35. Hi there! I was on another blog when I came across your blog :) Your pictures are breathtaking and so beautiful! When I was looking at the photos, I felt like I was right there. Lovely work.

    Blessings to you,

  36. Beautiful post with wonderful pictures Yoko!
    Greetings Essi

  37. How I wish I could step into these photos and walk along the river! It looks very enticing.

  38. wow.. this is so beautiful. Wish I could have visited such a place when I traveled to japan


Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. I will visit your blog shortly. Have a nice day!