Hasedera Temple in Nara – Beautiful Flowers and Awe-inspiring Views
There are an abundance of temples throughout Nara, but not many as beautiful as Hasedera in Sakurai. Located in the northern area of the prefecture, it’s approximately an hour and a half to an hour and forty-five minutes from Osaka station. To some, that might seem like a great distance, but once you take that journey you’ll see why it was worth it.
The temple was built in AD 686 and is positioned near the top of a mountain. There is a covered stairway leading up that’s strewn with flowers and lined with stone lanterns. And although the way up is not too steep, the perennials along its sides offer a welcomed distraction. Once you reach the top, there is a wide balcony that offers an awe-inspiring view of the sakura in the spring, a majestic canopy of green in the summer and the fiery reds and yellows of autumn.
The temple’s Buddha is carved from a camphor tree and nearby is a statue of a disciple named Binzuru, that is said to have healing powers if you rub the corresponding body part of his. Naturally, over the course of the hundreds of years, it has become silky smooth.
There are the usual gift, souvenirs, and fortune selling locations within the temple of course, but as an added bonus and surprise, it also has Wi-Fi. Additionally, there are QR codes at specific locations that provide explanations in several languages.
As you explore Hasedera, you will see why it’s sometimes referred to as "The Temple of Flowers". The grounds are littered with quite a variety of them including a plethora of hydrangeas as well as a lotus pond complete with koi and turtles.
A visit to Hasedera is really a great way to spend a day, and not only because of the temple, but also the area around it. This rural setting is loaded with old countryside charm. In fact, one of the more charming places to stop at either on your way to, or coming back from the temple is Haseji. Located on the main road leading to the dera, this restaurant offers a magnificent eating experience to delight both the eye and the palate. Set in an old styled house with a stunning Japanese garden, complete with a small stone bridge and shallow rill where you can see goldfish swimming lazily beneath the water’s surface, it’s sure to inspire feelings of nostalgia. The establishment specializes in traditional meals and offers its patrons the option of dining in the Japanese style of sitting upon tatami mats, or the Western style of using tables and chairs.
Another nice place is Suyachou. It doesn’t have the same impressive landscaping as Haseji, but one of the things that make it a worthwhile visit is that it’s a souvenir shop, mini market and café. It does serve the same style dishes however, and the prices are reasonable.
There are many other shops, temples and places of interest in the area, so come to Sakurai for the dera, stay for the charm, and enjoy the day.