Kokura city is the gateway to the Island of Kyushu from the Japanese mainland. We go for an evening stroll along the dazzling waterfront up to the 400 year old flatland Kokura Castle built towards the beginning of the Edo Period.
Today we went to explore the Yoshinogari ruins, that spreads throughout the Kanzaki area of Saga Prefecture. It is one of the largest historical site in Japan, reminiscent of Yamatai Kingdom from the Yayoi Era between 300 BC to 300 AD. The moated village marks the first shift from a nomadic lifestyle to permanent settlements.
The Kasugayama Primeval Forest hides many interesting flora in its midst. I go for a hike around the forest to Manyou Botanical Garden discovering an array of colors among the dense prehistoric forest of Nara.
We pay a visit to the ancient temple of Hasedera where the Ajisai is in full bloom in the monsoon season. The 1300 year old temple is also known as Ajisaidera or Hydrangea Temple, because of the hundreds of hydrangeas splashing the temple gardens in vibrant colors.
Engetsu Island is a sandstone rock in the midst of the sea, popular for its remarkable sunset view. The almost perfect circle in the center of the island is enchanting to see as the sun passes from inside the circular arch.
Today I went on a hike to Uguisunotaki Falls, into the deep end of the Kasugayama Forest, surrounded by tall Pines, where even the Sun doesn’t dare to peep through.
Lake Biwa is one of the most scenic spots in Japan. It is also one of very ancient lakes of the world dating back 4 million years. We take a walk along the white sands to the Torii at Shirahige Jinja to capture the lake in its surreal beauty.
I go back to explore Kasuga Taisha, shrine of a thousand lanterns, hidden away in the primeval forest of Kasugayama. Shinto shrines are generally destroyed and rebuilt every 20 years for purification purposes and this is the 57th re-incarnation of the 1700 year old Shrine.
I took the Nara Kotsu bus to explore the 7th century temple of Yakushi-ji in the suburbs of Nara. Known as the Temple of Medicine, Yakushi-ji is among Unesco’s list of “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara” World Heritage Site.