Untrodden Land of Eastern Yoshino – Great Tourism Spots and Native Hydrangea Hirtas Growing En Mass!
Yoshino, located in Southern Nara is home to many ancient histories and primitive vegetation of Japan. The well preserved historical assets and the unspoiled scenery of Yoshino reflect the fundamentals of Japan and it isn’t too exaggerated to state that the landscape is a reflection of the heart of Japanese people.
The Yoshino-Yama (Mt. Yoshino) is one of the iconic features of the region and is a popular sightseeing spot across all seasons. The sea of Yama sakura which covers the entire mountain range is a spectacular landscape which the region boasts of. Also, the Yoshinogawa (Yoshino River) is considered a natural wonder of Nara and it’s a favorite summer spot for the locals to enjoy outdoor activities.
Aside from all the beloved features of Yoshino mentioned above, here I would like to introduce you to some timeless qualities of Eastern Yoshino that are lesser known but worth visiting.
The region of Eastern Yoshino is a sacred land of Emperor Jimmu, the very first emperor of Japan who took the throne in 660 BC according to the ancient writings of Nihonshyoki and Kojiki. Here, Emperor Jimmu received a divine revelation that he will unite the land of Yamato (an ancient name which refers to Nara) and become the first emperor.
Yumebuchi and Higashino Waterfall
The place where the tale of Emperor Jimmu took place is the Yumebuchi. It is told that Emperor Jimmu poured alcohol into this swamp and foretold his victory from the fishes floating drunk.
The Yumebuchi is an enormous swamp where the three rivers (Takamigawa, Hiuragawa, Shigougawa) merge together to create a stunning turquoise colored water.
The Higashino waterfall which pours into the Yumebuchi is also a subject of worship and its dynamics add momentum to this mythological landscape.
There is also a camping site called Higashi Yoshino Camping Site (東吉野キャンピング場) around Takamigawa and thus you can enjoy outdoor activities such as fishing and BBQ inside of Nara's Power spot. The price is 3000 yen per tent, but for the actual usage of the site you will need to contact the office of Higashi Yoshino village in advance.
Niukawakami Shrine (Middle)
The Niukawakami Shrine, established in 675 under the command of Emperor Temmu, worship the oldest Mizu no kami (God of water) in Japan.
The Ema (絵馬) which we occasionally find at shrines originated from the rituals of this shrine.
The shrine is divided in to three parts: upper, middle, lower, but if in case you are stopping at Yumebuchi and Higashino Waterfall you should consider the Middle section as both sites are located only a walking distance away from here.
If you are looking for an outdoor activity in a Power spot along with a cultural experience, these sites are highly recommended.
A mass of wild Hydrangea Hirtas on the way up to Ashinosato Toge (Ashinosato Ridge).
Hydrangea are a native flora of Japan and are extremely popular in summer, yet did you know that many of which we commonly encounter are not the original species but are flowers brought back from the West?
8km up the mountain from the Niukawakami Shrine on the way to Ashinosato Toge, you will encounter a mass of wild hydrangea Hirtas, one of the types of Hydrangeas native to Japan, covering the entire mountain slope.
The petals are petite and lightly coloured compared to the imported ones and the view of them growing in a mass is just breathtaking and makes the area look enchanted.
If in case you are coming in to Niukawami Shrine and areas around Yumebuchi on public transport you will need to catch the train to Haibara station (榛原駅) on the Kintetsu line and board the bus to Higashi Yoshino Yakuba Mae (東吉野役場前行き), then you will need to catch the community bus for here to both the venues. It is strongly recommend that you contact the office of Higashi Yoshino Village and Narakotsu to check the bus timetables in advance since the number of running buses are limited and their timetables are prone to changes.
If in case you are coming in by car, the drive from Nara City to East Yoshino takes approximately 1hr 20 mins to 1hr 40 mins and there are large car parks around the area available to visitors free of charge.
If you are thinking of catching the Hydrangea Hirtas, the best option is to come in by car as there are no public transports to access the area.