Monday, April 19, 2021

Takisaka-no-Michi Path

Takisaka-no-michi path is the former half of 21-kilomiter Yagyu Highway connecting Takabatake-cho, Nara City and Yagyu, a village of master swordsmen, the Yagyu family. As it name shows, "taki" for "waterfall" and "saka" for "slope", the path consists of quite steep slopes running along a river lined with large, aged trees between the two mountains, Mt. Kasuga and Mt. Takamado.

It is said to have been a training path for Shugendo since late 8th century. Shugendo is Japanese mountain asceticism incorporating Shinto and Buddhism concepts. Much later in Edo period (1603-1867), it was a commuting path for those who learned the art of Yagyu swordsmanship.

My husband and I travelled several times including this walk in 2017. Each time I felt like that the past travelers footsteps echoing.  

The path is quite an ascent right after the start from Nara Park area. It is mostly cobblestone path formed of irregularly-shaped stones, which is a relic of road repair operation undertaken by Nara Magistrate when the head of the Yagyu clan, Kendo (Japanese fencing) instructor to the Tokugawa Shogunate, was promoted to Daimyo (feudal lord) in 1636. It was the only road connecting Yagyu and Nara.

Hard climbing can be eased by the murmuring of a stream and the rustling of leaves in the dappled shadow 
of lush green.

A fallen tree stood in our way.

Wisterias grow wild, stretching and winding their vines.

After a while, stone Buddha images begin to appear, some beside the trail and others higher up on the mountainsides. They served as objects of worship for mountain Buddhism, and silent protectors for travelers, as well. The Asahi (Sunrise) Kannon, carved into a rock overhanging the trail, catches the first rays of the morning sun from the top of Mt. Takamado.

”Kubikiri Jizo" meaning "decapitated Jizo" has its name due to the cut in the neck. Legend has said that Mataemon Araki, a disciple of swordsman Jyube Yagyuu, tried out the sharpness of his new Japanese sword. (Jizo Buddhistava is a guardian of trevellers as well as children.) Around this stone Buddha image is called "Jigokudani", Hell Valley.

 In spite of the name of the place, it's really a serene, beautiful place.

Having enough rest, my husband and I returned from this place, going down carefully the wet slippery stone path.  Edge of the path was also slippery because of the piled-up fallen leaves.

Takabatake, where Takisaka-no-michi starts, is one of the oldest residential areas, where people who worked for the Kasuga Grand Shrine used to live. Along the road which we took our way to the nearest bus stop, the houses are traditional Japanese ones including grand mansions to protect the scenery of the historic area.

Bottom right is a popular buckwheat noodle restaurant 観 Kwan across the road from the bus stop

Linked to Mosaic Monday


  1. Very informative to read about the Takisaka-no-michi path, never heard before. I enjoyed reading. Love such interesting Posts.

    Happy MosaicMonday

  2. Dear Yoko - this just the sort of ancient pathway that I like to walk along. My imagination working overtime as I wonder just who might have walked that very same route hundreds of years previously. I would also love to be able to visit the buckwheat noodle restaurant 観 Kwan as I can imagine that it serves very delicious and healthy food.

  3. That would be a dream for me to hike this trail and see all of the beauty. I'm amazed at the Buddhas carved into the stone. You really feel like it's a path many have made before you. I would be in awe!

  4. What a serene trail. I see you'd have to watch your step on those large cobblestones. I wish I could walk it with you, Yoko, amid the ancient trees and the protecting Buddhas. There is a similar steep trail near my house with a creek singing below the ridge as it makes its way down the mountain. I hope to hike it again when the snow melts. Stay well!

  5. There's something about old roads through woodland that lends them an air of mystery, so much more so if they retain some of the old cobbles. I love exploring such places.
    (Thanks for the observation about the lonely gate I photographed reminding you of Covid restrictions - gave me a good chuckle this morning).

  6. A beautiful place to visit. To calm down and appreciate Nature...
    Thanks for sharing those beauties.
    Have a lovely day !

  7. What a joy to follow in the footsteps/path of history where so many others have roamed. Hell Valley really does look serene and beautiful. The forest Buddha carved in stone would be a surprising and wonderful sight to see! I would probably stop to reflect on my journey over noodles and tea.

  8. Yoko - this is a gorgeous path. I was fascinated by the history. The rocks with the Buddha images are amazing. Your reflection photos are always the highlight of your posts. Superb! Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday!


  9. ·.
    Excellent photographs illustrate what you write. I love that trail into the dense forest. I guess with the wisteria in bloom it has to be spectacular. What you tell is very interesting to the eyes of a Westerner at the other end of the map.
    I envy that trail. Here we also have them among beech and chestnut forests.

    LaMiradaAusente · & · CristalRasgado

  10. Gorgeously Captured - Love That Waterfall For Sure - Everything Appears So Lush And Green - Way Cool


  11. A beautiful trail indeed. I would love to have walked it with you. There is all the history to ponder in addition to the natural beauty.

  12. such lush and serene place to visit dear Yoko !

    i love seeing places belong to to old residents ,they seem fascinating absolutely :)

    the trails are tranquil and lovely ,i grew in a valley so hell valley sounds terrible to me ,i wonder why they name it hell valley though
    stone Buddha images are exquisite
    i enjoyed the virtual tour :)
    thank you for cherishing views and informative words always my friend!

  13. A most enjoyable walk, thanks a lot, Yoko. Not only the pictures, but also your description made me feel like a traveller along that path. Takisaka, right? Rise-fall, or rather fall-rise, the way I understood. Might be a challenge, especially when the stones are slippery. The place looks steeped in history. I might have missed something, but what does the red cloth mean in one of the photos? And the final picture revived the taste of soba that I loved so much!
    Keep well, dear friend. With warm memories of the walk in Nara,

    1. Hello Irina. Jizo (we call “o-jozo-sama” affectionately) is a guardian of children as well as travelers. Red color is believedr to defend against evil since ancient times. With the red baby bib, some wish for protection of their children and grieving parents who lost their children pray for the spirits to go to heaven without suffering.

  14. What a peaceful area! Lovely shots.

  15. What a beautiful walk, and you have taught me so much history. I would love to walk that path, but I would be rather slow going up the steep parts of the trail! I am enjoying your photographs of this magical place.

  16. Charming mini travel diary this one that you leave us here. Without a doubt, this path concentrates a good wealth of experiences. If it is true, that all that way in which we put our senses and attention, holds some teaching for us. To this must be added a wealth of history, tradition and natural beauty.


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