Set amidst rolling hills and lush green fields, Asuka and its surrounds are considered the birthplace of Japanese civilisation. As the place where Buddhism was introduced from the mainland of Asia, Asuka is the perfect balance of history and beauty in all seasons.
Cycle through ancient Asuka
Discover Ancient Asuka
Tranquil and relatively compact, Asuka is a perfect destination for two-wheeled adventures. Rent a bike right outside the station at Asuka Rental Cycling and wind your way through Japanese history as you explore the lush quaint scenery.
A short bike-ride from Asuka Station brings you to Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, an ancient burial chamber inside Asuka Historical Government Park. Shaped like a beautifully symmetrical mountain, the tumulus contains a stone chamber, painted with colorful scenes of courtly life from around 1,300 years ago. While you can't walk inside the tomb, there's a museum nearby with full-sized reproductions of these beautiful paintings.
- Takamatsuzuka Tumulus
- An ancient burial chamber inside Asuka Historical Government Park with a beautifully symmetrical shape.
From here, it’s an easy cycle through groves of fruit trees and rice fields, which lead to a huge tortoise shaped stone with a cute face. During the peak tourist season, a rest area opens nearby, where you can buy locally-grown, fresh fruits and vegetables and take a break.
- Kameishi Tortoise Stone
- A mysterious megalith carved to resemble a turtle. History & Culture Asuka
Lovely narrow lanes lined with traditional houses pave the way to Tachibanadera Temple. Enjoy a stroll through the attractive temple grounds, which reflect the changing seasons. Keep an eye out for the mysterious Nimenseki—a stone thought to represent the two faces of humanity—said to predate the temple.
- Tachibanadera Temple
- This temple is built on the site believed to be the birthplace of Prince Shotoku, a strong supporter of Buddhism in Japan. History & Culture Asuka
Rest and Refresh
Take a well-deserved pit stop at Coffee Sanpo, located a mere five-minute bike-ride away. You can enjoy a delightful lunch in a traditional Japanese house setting.
- Coffee Sanpo
- Coffee Sanpo’s garden makes it one of the most charming places to stop in Asuka. Japanese Cafes Asuka
At the approach to Ishibutai Tumulus, you'll find Yumeichi Chaya, a rustic farmhouse-style restaurant and produce shop, with indoor and outdoor seating, for a break. Nearby is a branch of Asuka Rental Cycling, where you can drop off your bike if you feel so inclined. The open space around the tumulus is a must-see during cherry blossom season when the trees are illuminated.
- Ishibutai Tumulus
- Walk inside and marvel at the 75 tonne stone that forms the roof. History & Culture Asuka
The cafe is just a three minute bike-ride from Ishibutai Tumulus. Drop in to the charming former sake brewery turned Cafe Kotodama and pick up local crafts or indulge in the famous local Asuka Ruby strawberries.
- Cafe Kotodama
- A former sake brewery reborn as a stylish restaurant with casual dishes and traditional sweets. Japanese Restaurants Asuka
Just ten minutes down the road by bike, you’ll find one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan, Asukadera Temple. Surrounded by rice and vegetable fields, Asukadera used to be a vast temple complex. It's also the home to the oldest Buddha statue in Japan.
- Asukadera Temple
- Asukadera Temple was founded in AD588 by the prominent Soga clan, shortly after Buddhism was introduced from Korea through China. History & Culture Asuka
Stop to take in the sweeping views of the entire area from Amakashi-no-Oka Hill, just a six-minute bike-ride from Asukadera Temple. Grab yourself a spot on the picnic tables and bask in the fragrant shade of the plum and cherry blossoms which bloom from late winter to spring.
- Amakashi-no-Oka hill
- Get a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and enjoy a lovely sunset. Nature & The Outdoors Asuka
From here you’ve got two options: you can either ride back to Asuka Station to drop off your bike, or you can continue north towards Kashiharajingu-mae station, and on to the majestic Kashihara Jingu, built on the spot where Japan's first emperor was believed to be enthroned.
- Kashihara Jingu
- Surrounded by lush forest, the Hall of Worship (Gehaiden) sits in front of Mt Unebi. History & Culture Kashihara
There's no need to return to Asuka Station when you finish your journey. For a small extra fee, you can conveniently drop your bicycle off at the Asuka Rental Cycle shop right next to Kashiharajingu-mae Station.