Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Ancient Road

In ancient times, there was a road connecting the ancient capital of Nara with Asuka region along the foot of verdant  hills on hills in the east of Nara Basin. It's called Yamanobe-no-michi and thought to be the oldest road in Japan.

Now you can feel the world of ancient myths and legends found in Kojiki or Nihonshoki; the ancient chronicles, and in the Manyoshu collection of poetry; the anthorogy compiled in 8th Century.
Especially  from Isonokami Shrine in Tenri City to Miwa Shrine in Sakurai City, many temples, shrines, remains, huge old tombs are lining along the road which runs in pastoral landscape or through mandarin fields or houses on either side.

Mt. Miwa with the smooth gradual ridge line has been worshiped and admired as a sacred mountain since ancient times. It is a symbolic figure of Yamanobe-no-michi.

A stone monument inscribed with a Manyoshu Tanka by Nukata-no-Okimi;

三輪山を しかも隠すか 雲だにも 情(こころ)あらなむ 隠そうべしや

When the capital was relocated from Asuka to Oumi in 667 (now Shiga prefecture), the people concerned  were so reluctant to leave the place. She wrote this tanka with a feeling of painful farewell, meaning; "Mt. Miwa began to be lost to my view, oh, clouds, if you have a heart, please don't hide Mt Miwa I've adored."

                                                                                                            image from Wikipedia

                                                       Hibara Shrine
                         An ancient form of Torii gate made only with two posts and a rope called "Shimenawa". It is the affiliated shrine of Miwa Shrine and there's no main building. Once it was dedicated to Amaterasu Omikami before she settled at Ise Shrine. So this shrine is called "moto ise"

     It is one of few shrines that has a "triple torii" on its ground.

Looking back from torii, Mt.Nijyo with two tops like a camel with two bumps comes in sight, which has also been admired and worshiped and often written in Manyo Tanka.  The winding road seems to be leading you all the way to that mountain. Around the Vernal and Autumnal Equinox Days, the sun sets exactly between two bumps of that mountain. I can easily imagine how people those days, still now, were awe-inspired and thankful to the nature and gods within nature.

   Though not exactly Mt. Nijyo since equinox is more than a month away, the setting sun was          
   really beautiful.

                              Idera Pond near Hibara Shrine
Those mountain ranges from Mt.Nijyo (from right side) to Mt. Katsuragi and Mt. Kongo are in your sight far away  all along Yamanobe-no-michi.

At this pond stood this stone monument inscribed with a song by Yamato Takeru, legendary hero. (written by a well-known novelist Yasunari Kawabata)

大和は 国のまほろば たたなづく 青かき 山ごもれる 大和しうるわし

In the closing days of his life, he must've thought of his native place from afar as a perfect place surrounded by verdant peaceful beautiful mountains.

                            Roubai, Chimonanthus praecox, means winter flower in Greek.The fragrance of them scented  the air. (a week ago in Asuka)


  1. Lovely post and pictures. What a great sunset and pound. Your landscape look so peaceful. And you almost have Spring around? is some times to it gets over to me..

    Hope you have a blessed Sunday:-)


  2. cosmosさん、こんにちわ。





  3. Hi,Cosmos!


    Enjoy your days!

  4. 黒塚古墳あたりから竜王山を見ながらみかん畑の中を歩いたのを覚えていますが、全行程を歩いたことはありません。 俗化されていない素朴でのどかな景観ほど静かな深い感動を引き起こしてくれるのだと思います。写真、歌の引用、構成もすばらしい。 感動をありがとう。

  5. Mt.Nijyo was quite impressionable when I took the road( not the whole), and in your photos, too.
    The sky of dusk express well the atmosphere of the oldest road.
    And I remembered your older post about Mt.Miwa which has misterious and sacred circumstance. Thank you for this wonderful post.

  6. Such a sensitive and beautiful post! The rope of the old arch is beautiful and a perfect frame for the mountain.

    Gorgeous shots, as always.

  7. It's interesting that the sun sets exactly behind the middle of Mt.Nijyo.The sunset view is gorgeous and dreamily color.
    I've never seen such plenty of Chimonanthus flowers. The petals are took thin,fragile and transmit lights. Very beautiful. I want to see and smell them.

  8. An interesting history of this place. The place where this gate is already looking sacred. Sun gives the place a soul. Interesting photo. Again, I learned more about your country. Sincerely, Peter.

  9. 本当にステキな道を歩かれましたね。私は一部しか歩いていません。ロウバイがじつに見事。こんなきれいなロウバイをみるの久しぶりです。透き通った淡い黄色。とてもきれいに撮れていますね。石上神宮は大変格が高いので写真を拝見するだけでも畏れ多い気分になります。夕景の鳥居と池の写真にはため息が出ます。これぞ「大和しうるわし!」私、安田靫彦先生の描かれた絵はみんな好きです。赤と白で額田王らしくステキです。

  10. Such a grand entrance to the Temple, looks huge. Also the sun setting at the centre, with its pristine colors looks picturesque.
    Beautifully captured with those temple bells.
    Have a wonderful day cosmos:)

  11. I'm not sure which beauty I prefer! The mountains, the sun setting, lovely architecture, or the breathtaking flowers? I'm so glad you included them all. It's very curious that the sun sets exactly between the two hills on the equinoxes. I think I would be making wishes on those auspicious days while taking in the view.

  12. 日本人の心の源流にふれるなつかしい風景です。三つ鳥居は檜原神社にもあるのですね。三輪神社では、ご神体を拝むために神主が入るだけだといわれました。一般人は禁止、かなりがっかりしました。

  13. Hello, cosmos.

      Attractive works.
      You are the excellent artist.

      I thank for your usual and hearty support.
      And i pray for you and yours peace.


  14. Thank you friends for taking the time to leave your comments.

    It's 1300 years this year since the completion of the ancient chronicle "Kojiki". In 2020, it'll be 1300 years since another chronicle "Nihonshoki" completed.
    So Nara Prefecture is planning to develope a project related to these chronicles and Manyou Tanka collection for 9 years from this year and try to invite people nationwide including foreign tourists to Nara.

    I myself am very much interested in this project.First I wanted to take a stroll down the ancient road and visited the places remembered in connection with two
    famous historical and traditional figures.

    As for the stone monument with a song by Yamato Takeru, without the signpost, I would've missed it.
    Yamato Takeru is thought to be a brave and valorous hero but it's interesting and poignant to know his hunger for his father's love from Kojiki.

    "Shimenawa", braided rope made of dried rice straw,is usually seen festooned with zigzag shaped paper streamer or straw streamer.
    A space bound by Shimenawa often indicates a sacred place such as at Shinto Shrine.

  15. Looking at your photos of this wonderful road, I am wondering whether it's possible to cycle along on it. It would be wonderful to go slowly without traffic along here and see these things.

    I love your header picture and the images of the trees covered in beautiful yellow blossom. There are no large trees here that have yellow blossom in Spring and so it's an unusual sight for me. The fact that they are scented is even better.

    I am sorry for my late viewing of this post, it did not appear in my feed for some reason.

  16. Lovely photos,I especially like the Idera Pond and yellow blossom.......pity we can't transfer scent on line!

    Enjoy your week Cosmos,

  17. Jenny,

    Thank you for finding me!1
    I think it's possible to cycle along but the road is not always flat and gentle like the one in the picture but some part is narrow farm road or slopes. I think walking is the best way to enjoy the atmosphere. You can find unmanned stands where farm products are placed or hung for sale along the farm road.It's fun to find and buy some fresh local produce while walking.


    Long time no see! How have you been doing?

    The yellow flowers are called Roubai in Japanese; rou means wax and bai means Ume or Japanese apricot, though not a family of Ume blossom. It was introduced from China. It flowers in late winter or early spring, whose petals are quite waxy and strongly scented.

    Thank you for coming here, Ruby.

  18. 全てが麗しの日本の今の風景なんですね。美しい自然への愛おしさが感じられるcosmosさんの見事な写真に感謝、感謝です。また、こんな日本を都会の子供達は知らないのではないかと思うと残念です。

  19. I discovered your blog via Ekaterina's blog ( Then I realized that some of my other favourite bloggers (Snowwhite, Sapphire, Jenny Woolf) all know about you, too!

    I've enjoyed reading your older posts and looking at your photos. I'm so sorry to hear about your mother. I live in Japan but my elderly mother is very far away in South Africa. She's not healthy. I constantly fear a telephone call from my sisters …

    I've never seen a shrine with such a shimenawa. Very interesting. You make me want to hike along that road!

  20. Anzu

    Country girl?としては、都会より、こういった田舎を歩く方がほっとできる私なのです。


    Thank you for visiting here and leaving the comment. Interesting blog title and an icon! I like it.
    The bloggers you mentioned above are the ones I have admired and they have been good influence on me and so have other bloggers. I'd like to visit yours later.
    I know how you feel about your mother living far away. She must know how you care about her.She must be happy.
    Hope you have a nice weekend!

  21. Hello, cosmos.

      Awe inspiring your works...
      It lets me feel warmth with the humanity.

      Thank you for your usual visit and heart.
      The prayer for all peace.

  22. Thank you Cosmos.
    Yes,I will visit you, having tea! I truly love your new header.


Thank you for visiting and leaving comments. It's really encouraging!

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