Path of Yamanobe is Japan's oldest path in Nara that connects the north and south of Nara Basin through the foot of the mountain. Here is the list of things to see along this mountain path.
1. Isonokami Jingu Shrine
Isonokami Jingu Shrine is known as one of the oldest shrines in Japan. It was the guardian deity of the ancient powerful clan, Mononobe clan and worked as the arsenal of Yamato Dynasty. Initially, the main shrine didn't exist and its sacred territory behind the front shrine had been the subject of worship. In 1874, sacred treasures including "Futsunomitama no tsurugi" (a sacred sword from ancient times) was discovered from its tabooed land, and the main shrine was built in 1913. The front shrine that stand before the main shrine is architecture of the early 12th century and listed as the national treasure as the oldest existing shrine building in Japan.
2. Yatogi Shrine
Located right next to Path of Yamanobe, Yatogi Shrine has a deep connection with Kasuga Taisha Shrine, the World Heritage Site, and enshrines "Kasuga Four Deity". From ancient times to up until the Meiji Restoration (1868), there was a tradition that they used shrine buildings of Wakamiya Shrine and torii archway granted by Kasuga Taisha Shrine every 60 years as the main shrine and torii, and the present main shrine has been granted in 1906. The view of the four main shrines with elegant Kasuga-style Hiwadabuki roofs is absolutely beautiful. Standing in front of the main shrine is the front shrine. It is a Shinto architecture with a thatch roof, which is a style rarely seen in Nara. The roof was re-thatched in 2015, and it is a simplistic yet classy looking building.
3. Hibara Shrine
Located on the hill that has a good view of Hashihaka Forest, Hibara Shrine is one of auxiliary shrines of Omiwa Shrine and considered to be the most important as well as the oldest of all the auxiliary shrines. Since its object of worship is a sacred rock in Mt. Miwa called "Iwakura", there is no main shrines or front shrines. Instead, there is an unusual style of archway with three archways joint together, called "Mitsutorii", and behind that is a sacred territory called "Himorogi", which is believed to be where deities descent. From this shrine, you can have a great view of Mt. Nijo which has been regarded as something sacred from a long time ago. On vernal equinox and autumnal equinox day, you can see the sunset through the archway and between the two mountains. The view will be very solemn and unforgettable.
4. Omiwa Shrine
The origin of Omiwa Shrine came from the ancient religious belief that worshiped Mt. Miwa as "a mountain in which god lives". It is known as one of Japan's oldest shrines and it appears in "Kojiki", the oldest historical document in Japan, and "Nihon Shoki". The shrine doesn't have a main shrine as its object of worship is Mt. Miwa that stands right behind the shrine, so people pay homage to the mountain through "Mitsutorii" located in back of the front shrine. The present front shrine was rebuilt in 1664 and is listed as the national important cultural asset as a splendorous Shinto architecture of Edo period (1603~1868). It has been getting a lot of touristic attention in recent years as one of the biggest power spots (places people go to receive some sort of sacred power) in Japan. Go and see the place yourself and something good might happen to you.
5. Hashihaka Burial Mound
Hashihaka Burial Mound is a key-hole shaped burial mound built in the mid-3rd century, and the most prominent one in the "Hashinaka Mounds". It is a huge mound with 278m-length and 30m-height at rear circle and its surrounding moat is listed as a national historic landmark. Although, it is confirmed by Imperial Household Agency that it is a tomb of the daughter of the 7th Emperor Kourei "Yamatototohimomosohimenomikoto-oich", its actual entombed is still unknown. Rumor has it, it is the tomb of "Himiko", the queen of "Yamataikoku", which is an ancient country that existed within Japan from the 2nd century to the 3rd century. The location of this ancient country is still unknown to this date, and the burial mound is getting a lot of attention of archaeology nerds.
There are a lot of historic sites along the mountain path. It is well-organized as a hiking trail, why don't you go hiking in this beautiful and historical path?
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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