Explore Asuka Village, the ancient Capital of Japan by Bicycle

Rent a bike and take a cycling tour

Easily accessible in 90 minutes from both Osaka and Kyoto, Asuka Village was home to the Emperor’s Palace from 592-710AD, known as the Asuka Period.

A visitor will surely be able to imagine life as it was during this time by taking in the passing scenery of rice paddies, temples and examples of masonry of the period by bike.

The best way to take in the sights of Asuka Village is by Bicycle. There are a variety of sizes of bikes available for rent, from 18 inches for children to 27 inches as well as bikes fitted with a baby seat to accommodate families with young children and even electrically assisted bikes. Bikes are able to be rented at any one of the five bike stands around the village, such as in front of the Kintetsu Asuka Station or Kashihara Jingumae Station which is on the way to Osaka and Kyoto. Bikes can be returned to any one of the bike stands after your ride.

Discovering History at the Ancient Ruins

There are many historical gravesites of the rulers of the Asuka Period (592-710 AD) easily accessible from the Asuka Station, one being Ishibutai is one of the largest traditional rectangle burial mounds in Japan. The upper section of the burial mound has been lost over the years, exposing the actual tomb housed within it. The public park where Ishibutai is situated hosts the annual Ancient Asuka Culture Festival, providing visitors with a great opportunity to experience the local fourteen hundred year old traditional arts and culture.

Ishibutai Burial Mound
Ishibutai Burial Mound. Photograph courtesy of the Nara Visitors Bureau.

There are many historical temples to be discovered while cycling through the beautiful landscapes of rice fields and country side surrounding the village. The Tachibanadera Temple which was rebuilt in 1864, located on the way to Ishibutai Burial Mound from Asuka Station, is the birthplace of Prince Shotoku (574-622AD) who penned the first laws of Japan. His image was previously featured on various Japanese yen bills.

Other places of interest that are well worth a visit include the Asuka Temple, erected in the Sixth Century making it the oldest Buddhist Temple in Japan, or the ruins of the ancient Takamatsuzuka Tomb where a very well preserved, richly colored painting of four elegant women of the period was discovered. A noteworthy site in Asuka is also the Oni-no-Manaita Stone (or The Devil’s Chopping Board) where, mythologically Oni (or Japanese Devil) sacrificed humans for food.

Enjoying the views of the countryside that changes with each season

rice paddy terraces

South of the district of Temples and historic ruins lies the Asuka river which runs through the center of the Village, feeding the many rice paddy terraces with water. The beautiful panorama of the rice paddy terraces changes with each of the four seasons, the mirror like reflection of the early summer sky in June and beauty of the red Higanbana Flowers in Autumn are especially charming.

Speech guidance is available in four Languages by using a special ‘Speech Guidance Pen’ which a visitor is able to rent at any one of five locations around Asuka such as the Asuka Historical National Government Park Hall. The Speech Guidance Pen provides visitors with explanations and speech guidance of 37 tourist attractions within the village by simply scanning the provided map with the pen.

Speech Guidance is available in Japanese, English, Simplified Chinese and Korean, for 500yen, available from 9:30am – 5pm, 9:30 am -4:30pm between December and February.

Being one of the places where the first laws were written, which became a part of forming the nation of Japan, Asuka Village is an important place in Japanese history, and therefore a recommended destination for anyone interested in traditional architecture, or wishing to take a step back in time to ancient Japan.