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【Nara】 Recommended Spots Around Takakamo Shrine

Takakamo Jinja (Takakamo Shrine) is the head shrine of all Kamo shrines throughout Japan, such as the Kamo Jinja (Kamo Shrine) in Kyoto. It is known as one of the oldest shrines in the country, having conducted rituals and religious services since the middle of the Yayoi period (300 BC – 250 AD). This shrine’s guardian deity is the ancient and powerful Kamo clan, while its main enshrined deity is Ajishikitakahikone no Mikoto (Kamo no Omikami). It is a shrine with strong divine power that can even resurrect deceased deities, so it apparently answers prayers for rebirth, resurrection, and recovery from illness. The term “kami” and its paronym “kamo” are derived from the word “kamosu” (which means “to bring about”), and they express the state of releasing the spirit. The shrine’s precinct is surrounded by a sacred forest that has been untouched by human hands since ancient times. It is filled with a solemn spirit. If you walk on the cool approach that is covered by old cedar trees, you should feel refreshed in both mind and body.

Head Up North on the Legendary Katsuragi Kodo Path and Visit the Head Kamo Shrine in Japan

If you walk on this path that is cool even during the summer, the Honden (main shrine) – a designated Important Cultural Property of Japan – will appear in front of you. The Haiden (hall of worship) is under renovation until this autumn, so go to the temporary prayer area if you want to worship.

On the Miyaike pond where carps swim gracefully, there is a floating stage that is dedicated to gagaku (old Japanese court music) and dance. Take a photo as a souvenir with the sacred forest at the back.

Alongside the path, there is a bronze statue of Masashige Kusunoki bearing the engraving “shichishohokoku” (a Buddhist concept of serving the country over seven lives).

At the Juyosho (place where amulets are offered) that is lined with o-mamori (amulets) and ema (votive pictures), you will find a lot of cute Kamo Mikuji (fortune slips) (100 JPY) that are folded into the shape of a duck.

Pay Homage at the Shrine Inside the Precinct

At the foot of Kongosan (Mt. Kongo) with an elevation of 300m are two auxiliary shrines and 16 subordinate shrines. They stand quietly inside the precinct. After worshiping at the main shrine, go around these smaller shrines in order.

Beyond the brightly colored torii (gate) sits an Inari shrine that is dedicated to Oinari-san (deity of harvest).

Small shrines that enshrine Amaterasu Omikami (sun goddess) also line the area near Higashi Jinja (Higashi Shrine).

■ Takakamo Jinja
Phone: 0745-66-0609
Hours: 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Juyosho: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Closed: None
Fees: Free admission Parking area: About 30 vehicles (free)

【Access to Takakamo Jinja via the Katsuragi IC】
Head south on Prefectural Road 30. Turn left at the guide signboard, and then go south. Distance is about 11km, and driving will take approximately 20 minutes.

Takakamo Jinja

1110 Kamogami, Gose-shi, Nara

Try the Famous Soba at the Shop Adjacent to the Precinct

The shop, Soba Goya, mills the unpolished buckwheat kernels from contract farmers in Hokkaido using a grindstone. The soba (buckwheat noodles) that is made with the “nihachi” (two parts wheat and eight parts buckwheat) formula has an exceptional flavor and body. This shop’s soba almost always gets sold out past noon, so you should hurry if you want to try it!

This is the famous Kamojiru Soba (1,200 JPY) that combines chewy, hand-pulled, and highly nutritious soba with a sweet soup that has a generous serving of duck meat.

From inside the restaurant, you will get to see the beautiful Miyaike pond beyond the trees.

The shop is inside the Katsuragi no Michi Rekishi Bunkakan museum that is next to Takakamo Jinja. There is no admission fee.

■ Soba Goya
Address: Inside Katsuragi no Michi Rekishi Bunkakan, 1126 Kamogami, Gose-shi, Nara
Phone: 0745-66-1159
Hours: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM (shop closes when dishes are sold out)
Closed: Mondays (open if Monday is a public holiday)
Seating capacity: 18 seats
Smoking: Non-smoking
Parking area: About 12 vehicles (free)

Katsuragi no Michi Rekishi Bunkakan

1126 Kamogami, Gose-shi, Nara

Cool Down With Parfaits and Ice Cream That Use Fresh Milk From Dairy Farms

This is an interactive farm that was designed under the theme “touch, feel, enjoy”. Take a delicious break at Yume Latte, a famous coffee shop that serves around 30 flavors of ice cream (290 JPY each) that are all made with fresh milk.

This is the Yamatocha Parfait (570 JPY) that fuses powdered Yamatocha (Yamato tea) with milky soft-serve ice cream.

The shop stands on a plateau with an elevation of 250m, and from the spacious terrace, you can enjoy a peaceful view.

This is the Yamato Pork Kunsei Pizza (smoked pork pizza) (880 JPY) with homemade mozzarella cheese and delicious branded pork.

This is a picture of rare local ice cream using persimmon, the specialty of Nara.

This is a picture of fig ice cream that uses fruits harvested from the shop’s own farm!

This is a picture of ice cream filled with blueberries harvested from the shop’s own farm.

This is a picture of sunflower-flavored ice cream with fragrant roasted seeds to make you feel the summer!

This is a picture of the cafe, Yume Latte, that is inside the shop. You can also experience dairy farming at the ranch (reservation required at least a week in advance).

■Latte Takamatsu
Phone: 0745-62-3953
Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
December – March: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Cafe: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Closed: Tuesdays (Wednesdays in December - March) ※Shop will be open if it is a public holiday
Seating capacity: About 18 seats
Parking area: About 30 vehicles (free)

Latte Takamatsu

278-3 Yamaguchi, Katsuragi-shi, Nara

There’s Also a Play Area For Kids With Fun Wooden Toys!

Michi no Eki Katsuragi (Road Station Katsuragi) is the largest roadside station in Nara. Aside from being able to get your hands on freshly harvested local produce here, you will also get to enjoy handmade gelato, local dishes, and other Katsuragi dishes at the food court that houses six shops.

Inside the information center is a kids’ space that uses wood from Yoshino-cho.

This is the Yamato Rosukatsu Teishoku (set meal of Yamato pork loin cutlets) (1,520 JPY) with soft Yamato pork from Kenko Karada Shokudo.

The Sakekasu Milk Single (sake leeks) (350 JPY) gelato from Katsuragi Sabo Forest Cafe uses sake leeks. The sake is Ginjoshu sake, which is made by local breweries.

Enjoy set meals and gelato inside the food court with a relaxed atmosphere. There is also a bakery and other shops inside!

This roadside station boasts of a massive area that measures 33,000sq.m. At the farmers’ market, you can even buy seafood delivered straight from Awaji Island!

■ Michi no Eki Katsuragi
Phone: 0745-48-1147
Farmers’ market: 8:30 AM – 7:00 PM
Food court/restaurants: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM (last order at 6:30 PM)
Cafe: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM (last order at 5:30 PM)
Closed: None
Seating capacity: 220 seats
Parking area: 145 vehicles (free)

Michi no Eki Katsuragi

1257 Ota, Katsuragi-shi, Nara

[This article was originally published in Walkerplus on 09.23.2017]

*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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