Japanese countryside is known as beautiful and tranquil and Uda City has that and more. Deep within the mountains of Nara, culture, history and tradition come alive as foreign visitors witness a little known part of Japan that has much to offer. It is an enchanted getaway that will provide a piece of paradise for all who come. This small town comprised of four wards--Haibara, Ouda, Utano and Murou--and only three train stations--Haibara, Murouguchiono and Sanhonmatsu--has interesting activities for anyone who loves the outdoors or wants to get out of the big city for a while.
Uda City is one hour away from Osaka and forty minutes away from Nara City by train. The first ward you will probably step onto is Haibara since it is nearest to the station. Apart from good restaurants and one ryokan with a natural onsen, people can use their time to hike to the top of Mount Torimiyama to a sightseeing park and a fantastic view of the city and it’s dense forest.
Uda has many hiking trails, but Torimiyama offers a full view of the suburbs and buildings while you walk up. At the top is a recreation park with a small but scenic temple and lake. It connects to the main road to Nara so, if you have energy to burn, you can walk to the top then go down the other way to the famous Hasedera temple at the end.
Photo : Wikipedia CommonsSummer season is a great time to visit Haibara as there are many festivals. The summer festival (natsu matsuri) happens the first week of August and has lots of entertainment, games, and food. It’s a great experience for the whole family to enjoy.
Ouda must then be viewed as it is Uda’s most historic city. Tourists from all over come to see this Japanese medieval town. It was once the home of a famous Matsuyama castle that was destroyed in the 17th century and was an important trade route during the Tokugawa era. The roads of the old route are still well preserved with shops selling modern and Tokugawa era items. Tour guides explain the history of the town and offer hikes through the mountain where the castle once stood. The tours are only available in Japanese though. If you are a history-buff, this will be a walk to remember.
Photo : Wikipedia CommonsThere are many Japanese onsens to soak in. The most famous being Akinonoyu deep within Ouda ward. It has many bath rooms for de-stressing including a vase of salt to rub onto your skin, herbal baths, a Japanese cypress bath, and even an electric bath which is especially detoxing for seniors.
Photo : http://photozou.jp/Of course, your trip to Uda cannot be complete without sightseeing in Murou. Murou is home to two famous temples that have their own train station, so they are easy to get to. They are renowned with some things not many Japan guidebooks will mention.
Photo : kimtetsu on FlickrMurou-ji takes the town’s name and has the beauty and rich history that the locals are proud of. It contains a beautiful flower garden and pagodas scattered across the mountain. Interestingly, it was also one of the first temples in Japan to allow female worshipers. It is a stylish Buddhist temple that everyone in Japan wants to come see.
Photo : scarletgreen on FlickrNot far from Muro-ji, Ono-ji is a spectacular sight as well. Across the river from the temple there is an 11.5 meter tall sculpture of bodhisattva Maitreya carved out of solid rock inside the mountain. This national treasure of Japan is something you have to see to believe.
Photo : Wikipedia CommonsUda City is a small town with lots of interesting things waiting for all who come to see. Many foreign tourists visiting Kansai may put Osaka and Kyoto on top of their lists of places to go, but if you have enough time why not check out somewhere smaller and full of tradition? The city is not well known but will leave a lasting impression for anyone who loves adventure and walking through nature.