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Goin’ Japanesque!

For Those Who Love Japan Travel! Nature Route of Less-Traveled Nara

When your days are stressful and hurried and when you feel dispossessed as if you were a cog in the wheel, what would you do to regain a sense of yourself?

Do you go to sing karaoke to let the steam off or go on a shopping spree on the Internet? Or do you work out in sports or give yourself a sweet treat? Well, all of these make you feel a little bit lighter for a while, but leave fatigue somewhere in the core after all.

At such times a great solution is to receive energy from nature. The power of nature is mysterious and it is somehow still different from others.

So I went to visit giant trees in Nara Prefecture this time in order to receive energies from Mother Nature. I will introduce giant trees in Japan that you can easily visit by stepping a little farther than usual without going to a distant island or climbing up a high mountain. Please enjoy a feeling that you cannot experience in other famous tourist destinations in Japan.

 

Giant Camphor Tree at Oshisaka-Yamaguchi-ni-Imasu-Jinja Shrine

忍坂山口坐神社

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Writer’s Photo

This camphor tree is a natural monument designated by Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture. The trunk is split into two large limbs at a height of 2 m from the ground. You can get really close to the side of this tree. (Please do not walk around the tree unnecessarily so that we can protect it for future generations.) Close your eyes and gently touch the trunk, and you will feel your troubled heart settle down quietly and peacefully.

According to the giant-tree data base of the Ministry of the Environment, the trunk’s circumference is 7.92 m, the height is 30 m, and it is about 600 years old. 600 years ago, Japan was in the early part of the Muromachi Period (1336-1573). I wonder what kind of people planted this tree and how they were dressed. My imagination gets stirred up and continues to grow.

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Writer’s Photo

And look upward. The sunlight filters through overlapping leaves that have grown as if to cover the sky. When you continue looking at the tree for a while, its massive size and long history it lived through are so overwhelming that you even feel like laughing off the smallness of your troubles. This is the power of giant trees!

Access: Map
Oshisaka-Yamaguchi-ni-Imasu-Jinja shrine is 700 m to the south from Asakura Station on the Kintetsu Osaka Line, approximately 15 minutes by walking.

 

Takai-no-Senbonsugi

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Writer’s Photo

Takai-no-senbonsugi is a natural monument designated by Nara Prefecture. How do you like this powerful presence!

According to the giant-tree data base of the Ministry of the Environment, the trunk’s circumference is 25 m, the height is 45 m, and it is about 700 years old. Seven hundred years!? Following the example, let’s see what period it was, and it is around the end of the Kamakura Period (1185-1333). It means this tree has kept a quiet watch of people who passed underneath and their lives for as long as 700 years. Hmmm.

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Writer’s Photo

As is indicated by the name of Senbonsugi (1000 cedar trees), many branches have grown as if to poke the sky, and this one tree alone is like a small forest. Wow!

It is said that there were originally 5 Japanese cedar trees planted around an old well near a road to Ise (Mie Prefecture) and the trees fused together. It has a whopping 16 trunks! The well quenched the thirst of travelers on the Ise Road, and Takai-no-senbonsugi around the well watched over Japanese travelers through history, offering them shade on hot days and protecting them from the blustering north wind when cold. It is the same today and its overwhelming presence and power wraps up modern day travelers as well.

Access: Map
To get to Takai-no-senbonsugi, take the Nara Kotsu bus either for Soni or Uchimaki for 13 minutes. Get off at Takai stop and walk for 10 minutes.

Could you shake off your stagnated feeling you had when you left home? When you are done with the spiritual detox, it’s time for a physical detox! Let’s go to Ichi-nyoan and get soba noodles and vegetarian dishes that are delicious and gentle for our bodies.

 

Soba and Vegetarian Delicacies at Ichi-nyoan

一如庵

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Writer’s Photo

An elegant and quaint Japanese-style house welcomes you in a mountainous area in Uda City, Nara Prefecture. You remove shoes and go up into a large tatami-matted room to sit down, feeling as if you came to a different world. Many dishes are offered as luxurious time spans slowly. The beauty of the cuisine is stunning and the taste of soba is astonishing! This is traditional Japanese food, the way it is supposed to be.

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Writer’s Photo: Appetizers

What looks like battera sushi (mackerel sushi) on the right foreground of the photo is all made of vegetables. When I eat carefully prepared cooking that draws out the essential taste of ingredients, I feel gratitude welling up in my heart for people who grew the food, for people who cooked food, for all the people related to the food.

Related Articles:
5 Local Sushi to Try in the Stylish City of Kyoto

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Writer’s Photo: Tempura in the right of the photo is also vegetarian

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Writer’s Photo

Two kinds of soba are served, and the one on the left is to be eaten with salt at the beginning.

Looking at how neatly this soba appeared I have instinctively corrected my sitting position to show respect. You can either order dishes a la carte such as soba, or enjoy a course that consists of 6 or 7 dishes including a seasonal dessert (reservation required). Map

 

How did you like our trip this time to meet the giant trees? If you have been to famous landmarks in Nara Prefecture such as Nara Park, I would like to recommend a deeper exploration of Nara like I have introduced this time.

I will be more than happy if your tired mind becomes lighter even by a little. Please enjoy a Japan trip of your own design.

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Atsuko

About the author

I am a licensed guide (in English) who was born and raised in Nara. I hope to convey the beauty of Nara and its history, the current Nara as well as the old and new of Kansai Area. Trust me to keep you in the know about Nara and the Kansai Area!

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