A Perfect Weekend in Murou
Close to both Nara City and Kyoto and bordering Mie Prefecture, Murou is rich in history and natural beauty. Its location and fertile farmlands coupled with its abundance of sand-iron for making weapons, made it popular with aristocratic families. To discover all the secrets of Murou, it’s worth staying for a weekend.
The main attraction is Murouji Temple, known as the Koyasan for women. When many temples did not allow female pilgrims access, Murouji Temple welcomed them, and it’s been a female power spot ever since. Of course, men are more than welcome. The small pagoda is perfectly framed by flowers or autumn leaves, according to the season.
the beautiful gardens include a striking Buddha figure carved into a cliff face
Murouji Temple can be reached by bus from Muroguchi-Ono Station, or there is a pleasant nature trail that takes around 2 hours and leads through Murou Art Forest. However you decide to get there, stop in at Ohnoji Temple, near the station. Famous for its weeping cherry blossom trees in spring, the beautiful gardens include a striking Buddha figure carved into a cliff face.
sculptures designed to be climbed, touched and explored
Murou Art Forest is a cutting-edge art venue with sculptures designed to be climbed, touched and explored, including man-made islands, bridges, spiral stairs and man-made forests. A short walk from Murouji Temple, it is worth a visit.
beautifully restored farmhouse
To relax, unwind and truly experience Murou, it's worth staying overnight. Sasayurian is a beautifully restored farm house booked out to just one group at a time. The nearest station is Akameguchi Station, just 5 minutes from Muroguchi-Ono Station. If you call in advance, your hosts will meet you there.
At Sasayurian, you can opt for a Michelin star meal or a rustic country hot pot, take a morning yoga class or even try your hand at rice farming. Of course, you can just sit out on the wide wooden veranda with a drink and enjoy doing nothing at all.
vivid green in summer and golden in autumn
If you’re visiting the Murou area by car, it’s just 30 minutes from Sasayurian to the stunning Soni Highland area; or you can take a bus from nearby Nabari Station. Vivid green in summer and golden in autumn, the sweeping plateau is ideal for a leisurely hike.
After stretching your legs and exploring the lush green plateau, you can relax at Okame-no-yu Onsen, a hot spring centre with mountain views from the outdoor baths.