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.
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