There is plenty to see in Asuka making it almost impossible to squeeze every spot into a day trip. In fact, the entire Asuka village and surrounding vicinities are protected as special cultural property due the wealth of temples, tumuli and archeological remains spread out around this cultural landscape.
The top spot undoubtedly goes to Asuka-dera temple. Although being rather conservative in size compared to temples in the historic hubs of Nara or Kyoto, it is the important history of Asuka-dera that draws in local and foreign tourists. Asuka-dera is the first full-scale temple in Japan. This temple is home to the Asuka Great Buddha whose claim to fame is for being the first Japanese Buddha.
At the Nara Prefecture Complex of Man`yo Culture visitors can gain greater insight into Manyoshu, one of the most important poetry anthologies in Japanese history. This literary style, established during the Asuka Period, is said to have set the groundwork for the Japanese aesthetic and contains strong references to the Yamato area. Located next to the “Manyo Bunkakan Nishi-guchi bus stop”, the institution has exhibition halls displaying the artwork of those influenced by Man'yo poetry as well as a Man'yo reading room and cafe. Other well-known museums include the National Asuka Historical Park Museum and Takamatsuzuka Mural Museum with entry costing a little over ¥250. For more detail on the traditions and lifestyles of the Asuka locals, the Asuka Folklore Museum introduces visitors to the lifestyles and traditions of local people dating back to the Asuka Era.
Nara Prefecture Complex of Man'yo Culture
ASUKA HISTORICAL NATIONAL GOVERNMENT PARK
”The Asuka Historical Nature Government Park” stretches across the district and is loosely divided into 5 areas each containing a different historical or natural allurement. The park was established to protect the natural charm of Asuka, a major attraction for those wishing to withdraw into nature. In the warmer months of the year, picnickers and cyclists alike enjoy downtime in the lush grounds of the park. The southern parks house some of the most interesting natural attractions like the Hinokumadera Temple Ruins, the Takamatsuzaka Tumulus and other historical landmarks.
The Asuka Historical Nature Government Park
THE ISHIBUTAI KOFUN
Standing tall as the biggest megalithic structure in Japan, the Ishibutai Kofun is an impressive ancient tomb made of about 30 huge rocks. The monument is believed to have entombed the Soga clan leader Soga Umako, a powerful ruler during the Asuka Period. However, archeologists theorise that his remains were stolen and the earthen mound removed as punishment of the Soga clan when the Imperial government regained power shortly after his death.
The size of the tomb is remarkable from inside and out. Enter the tomb from the long entrance path and experience the ample space of the tomb chamber. This Special Historic Site can be reached in about 25 minute by bike or bus(Get off Ishibutai bus stop) from Asuka Station. Ishibutai Kofun is just one of many interesting burial sites in Asuka. The Takamatsuzuka tumulus and the Kitora Tumulus are other sites to add to your itinerary as they are home to 7th century murals and considered national treasures. Both tumuli were only discovered in recent years and are still being restored and studied. However, at the Takamatsuzuka Mural Museum you can view reconstructions of the paintings and access information about these important discoveries in three different languages.