Accredited consecutively as the world’s best city by Travel+Lesiure, Kyoto is simply one of the most famous tourist destinations known worldwide. In midst of all the popularity of this koto (ancient capital), it is difficult to imagine that any of its treasure still remain here unspoiled.
Hidden away at the southern remote stretch of the prefecture, the region retains much of its ancient charms, and the nostalgic atmosphere explicitly portrays the heart of the Japanese people.
In autumn, the region looks at its prime when the vast area is bedazzled in splendid shades of the colorful foliage. Here are some secret wonders of Minami Yamashiro that are often overlooked and certainly underrated.
During 740-744, when Kunikyo (presently known as the area of Kizugawa) served as the capital of Japan, the power of Buddhism was at an all-time high and Emperor Shomu implemented a national policy that mandated construction of temples across Japan. Under such influence, southern Kyoto flourished as one of the spiritual grounds of Nara Buddhism.
Established during 735AD, Kaijusen-ji is one of the vestiges of the Kunikyo era, humbly tucked away north of Kizugawa.
While Kaijusen-ji possess numbers of gems, the jewel in its crown is most undeniably the five-storied pagoda that is a designated national treasure of Japan.
During late November until mid-December, the riot of autumn colors brighten the surroundings of the ancient architecture creating spellbinding sceneries.
Once you witness the secret wonders of Kaijusen-ji, you will definitely ask yourself why you didn’t explore this place sooner.
Access: Admission to Kaijusen-ji is ¥400. To access Kaijusen-ji on public transport board the train from JR Nara Station to JR Kamo Station and change to a bus for Wazuka cho Kosugi iki and get off at the Okazaki bus stop. Then walk for approximately 40 mins to the temple. There is quite a long distance from the bus stop to the temple, thus taking a taxi from Kamo Station is an alternative mode of transport to consider.
Also shying away in the remote reach of Kizugawa City, Joruri-ji is a temple famed for its traditional Japanese garden where you can see the deliberate landscape style typical of the Heian period.
Unlike many of the circuit-style gardens commonly found across Japan, Joruri-ji’s garden specifically designs its layout based on the Buddhist faith of the Jodo-sect and attempts to depict the image of Gokuraku Jodo – pure land or paradise on earth.
The huge pond located at the center of the garden is surrounded by the main hall to the west and a three-storied pagoda to the east. Many of these monuments are designated national treasures of Japan and the individual charm of each completes the heavenly landscape of the pure land.
To see a Jodo-style garden of the Heian period retained in an untouched state is a precious historical asset, and thus due to the extent of its significance, the garden of Joruri-ji is designated a special place of scenic beauty in Japan.
During autumn, the leaves are tinged in hues of scarlet red and creates beautiful sceneries which bring out the best of Joruri-ji’s historic garden.
If you are looking for a poetic autumn stroll inside an environment immersed in history and sophistication, a trip to Joruri-ji is a highly recommend one for you to take note of.
Access: Admission to Joruri-ji is ¥400. To access Joruri-ji on public transport catch the express bus to Joruri-ji from JR Nara Station to Kintetsu Nara Station. The number of running buses are limited, thus checking the bus timetable in advance is highly recommended.
Green Tea Field of Wazuka Cho (Wazuka Town)
When you imagine premium green tea, the first thing that pops up in most people’s minds will be Uji green tea. But regardless of its hallmark, did you know that majority of Uji Green tea is not from Uji but actually harvested in a petite town called Wazukacho?
Situated at the Soraku District, the charmingly small town of Wazukacho has devoted itself to green tea production for over 800 years, which was first introduced by Shonin Jishin, a monk of Kaijusen-ji.
The town’s mountain slopes are neatly terraced with green tea fields. The intoxicating scent of fresh green tea leaves fills the air, offering an authentic green tea experience found nowhere else.
While the craze for matcha has gone viral these days, an insight into the production of genuine green tea at Wazukacho will surely offer a new dimension to how you appreciate the flavor and subsequently prepare you well ahead of the trend.
Access: Admission to Wazukacho is free of charge. To access Wazuka cho on public transport, board the train at JR Nara Station to JR Kamo Station and change to a bus for Wazuka cho Kosugi iki and get off at Wazuka Yama no Ie bus stop for the tourist information center.