Afternoon ride to Yata-dera Temple, Nara
As spring was in the air this past Saturday (well...almost), I decided to take an afternoon ride and explore some back roads of Nara. My original plan was to ride to Hōryūji, but that plan was side tracked a bit after I continued to explore. About halfway into my ride I came upon a road that I thought might take me over the nearby mountain, so I decided to climb it. The climb didn't last that long though as I was suddenly at the entrance of a footpath. Not having been there before I decided to park the bike and walk up. I would soon find out that this was the entrance to Kongosenji Temple, which is more commonly know as Yata-dera temple.
Yata-dera Temple is located in the Yata hills, just north of Ikaruga, and roughly 3.5km from Koriyama, Nara prefecture. The temple was founded in 679. Around this time, Emperor Tenmu went up to Yata hill to pray for victory during the Jinshin Disturbance. Afterwards, Emperor Tenmu ordered the priest Chitsu to build seven buildings on the site. This would be the beginning of the temple.
Yata-dera is most famously know as the "Hydrangea Temple" as there are about 10,000 hydrangea's (ajisai), with about 60 varities in all. In 2005, the Nikkei newspaper selected Yata-dera as the second best spot to view Hydrangea's in western Japan. Unfortunately, as it is only the beginning of March, I wasn't able to see them, but hey, its a good reason to make a trip back here in June!
The entrance gate
View down the hill from the entrance gate
The climb (not too bad...unless you are wearing cycling shoes!)
The main hall of the temple
The bell tower
Bell tower detail