“Nara” prefecture, located in the Kansai region of Japan, hosts many historic temples, shrines and ruins. Japanese history can be discovered and revisited in many of Nara temples and shrines that collectively form an UNESCO World Heritage Site. These structures create an intriguing time-line of Japan’s development.
“Tanzan jinja” shrine, built in 678, was built to enshrine “Fujiwara Kamatari” (614-669), founder of the Fujiwara clan, which exerted huge political effect and essentially governed the country for most of the Heian Period (794-1185). Visitors of this shrine need to note that it resembles a temple more than a shrine. The structure was converted into a shrine during the Meiji Period (1868-1912) when the government edict established “Shinto” rather than “Buddhism” in Japan. Therefore, the buildings in the precincts of the shrine are temple-based architecture, and the focal point is unlike any other. For example, there is the thirteen-story pagoda roof. As you walk through the main Torii gate, you climb a hundred steps to reach the main cluster of the shrine. Adjacent to the main hall at the shrine is an open balcony where one can view the beautiful foliage and scenery. The famous autumn colors of maple and gingko trees dominate Mt. Goharetsu, creating a beautiful juxtaposition between the shrine and the environment.
When you have a chance to visit Nara prefecture, please consider to combine both beauty and historic portal onto Japanese history. This is a must see, travel location other than Big Buddha. To reach “Tanzan jinja” shrine, you can take a flight or a train to Osaka and then transfer to the private Kintetsu Nara Line from Namba Station. Travel time is 50 minutes from Osaka Station.
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