Chihayaakasaka village, in the southeast of Osaka prefecture, in the mountains of Kongozan, 1125m above sea level, is the only "village" in the prefecture. Walk around the village, also called Kogose village, to appreciate the beautiful views, including the Shimoakasaka terraced paddy field, which is one of the 100 selected terraced paddy fields. This village features small streams, an aerial ropeway, hiking trails, mountain climbing, and many more natural experiences. You can also enjoy a historical walk visiting the birthplace of Masashige Kusunoki, a warlord in the Northern and Southern dynasties. Comfortable shoes are recommended.
Kintetsu Nagano Line Tondabayashi Station
Approx. 20 min by Kongo Bus, 1 minute walk from "Suibun Jinja" bus stop
1. Takemikumari Shrine
Commonly called "Suibun Jinja". Approx. 20 minutes bumpy bus ride from Tondabayashi Station. Get off at the bus stop, walk in to see two huge stone torii, one at the front, another on the right. Go under the front one, and climb up the stairs for about 50m to find a quiet hall of worship surrounded by huge pine trees in front of you. It was razed to the ground by Nobunaga. Local people rebuilt it, gathering wood from all over. Some parts of the pillars are damaged, conveying their strong faith all the more. You cannot help but clasp your hands and pray.
Further up the stone steps, there lies the main shrine built by Lord Masashige Kusunoki on the order of Emperor Godaigo in 1334. It is dedicated to Ame-no-mi-nakanushi-no-kami, Ame-no-mikumari-no-kami, Kuni-no-mikumari-no-kami, Mitsuha-no-me-no-kami, and Seori-tsu-hime-no-kami. It is built in an unusual fashion of three shrines topped with cypress bark connected with corridors, and is designated as an Important Cultural Property. (General worship is allowed in the worship hall only).
Well, go down another stone steps on the side of the worship hall. Go under the torii on the right-hand side, and you reach the side shrine of Nagi Jinja. It is the oldest shrine dedicated to Lord Masashige Kusunoki. The grand rebuilt shrine has a beauty unavailable in the city with harmony between the natural color of hinoki cypress and green of the maple and pine trees. After a relaxing visit, press on to the birthplace of Lord Kusunoki.
3 min walk
2. Birthplace of Lord Kusunoki
Return to the bus road from Takemimakuri Jinja, walk approx. 20 minutes. Follow the guide signboard, going by an old farmhouse and jizo (guardian deity) statue. See the rice in the paddies, and green onions, eggplants, etc, in the fields. While enjoying the leisure time, arrive at the next goal, a stone memorial of the birthplace of Lord Kusunoki.
Let's review the history a little here. They say Masashige Kusunoki was born here in Chihayaakasaka Village Mimakuri Yamanoi in 1294. It was the time of great change. The Kamakura regime which had lasted over 140 years was in decline. There was a samurai movement to return political power to the emperor. Masashige raised an army against the Kamakura regime with Prince Morinaga, son of Emperor Godaigo, at Shimoakasaka castle in 1331. While Masashige held Chihaya castle for 100 days to hold the Kamakura army at bay, Yoshisada Nitta and others attacked Kamakura, defeating the regime in 1333. Masashige was given statutory office with a noble degree by Emperor Godaigo. However, he was defeated at the battle of Minatogawa in 1336 by Takauji Ashikaga who raised an army against the Emperor. He finally committed ritual suicide. This "Birthplace of Lord Kusunoki" began when Nagamori Mashita built a small shrine over a dirt stage by the order of Hideyoshi Toyotomi in 1592-1596. The letters of memorial by the recommendation of Toshimichi Okubo in 1875 was by the hand of Shunzo Momonoi, one of the great sword masters at the end of the Tokugawa era. "Lord Kusunoki Festival" is held every April 25th.
A short walk
3. Chihayaakasaka Village Municipal Hometown Museum
A museum right next to the birthplace of Masashige Kusunoki. Materials concerning Lord Kusunoki and old artifacts excavated in the village are displayed downstairs. Also there are two wooden guard dogs which were said to be in the Takemikumari Jinja and a photo of the old main shrine. Upstairs is full of equipment for Koya dofu making which is a particular feature of the pure water area, farming equipment, and equipment for everyday use. An amazing exhibit is the equipment for teeth tinting "hanzo".
Adults ￥200 Children 100 (group discount available)
2 min walk
4. Well used for the first bath for Lord Kusunoki
Walk 2-3 minutes to the right from the front of the museum, and come across a stone post of "Well used for the first bath for Lord Kusunoki". Follow the arrow to go further, there are hinoki cypress steps, and a well where water still springs out. The tree frogs look happy near the delicious water. Let's persevere a bit more here. About 25 minutes walk to the terraced paddy fields of Shimoakasaka, one of the 100 selected rice paddies of Japan!
25 min walk
5. Terraced paddy fields of Shimoakasaka
About 25 minutes walk from the well of Lord Kusunoki's first bath. Pass the Village Hall, go up the slope next to the Chihayaakasaka Municipal Junior High School bus stop, go through the school to reach the point of a breathtaking view of the "Terraced Paddy Fields of Shimoakasaka". Terraced paddy fields are stairway-like rice paddy fields built on slopes. Also called One Thousand Paddy Fields due to the great number of paddies. "100 Selected Paddy Fields" were certified by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery including this one in July, 1999. Overlooking Kongo Katsuragi mountains to the east, Kawachi plain to the northwest, a beautiful view resembling stacked plates. The water in the small paddies appears to be waving, reflecting the sunshine. You can never get tired of watching. The new greenery season after the rice planting, the early autumn when ears of rice become golden. You will want to come here many times through the four seasons. Take time to feel moved, imagining the hard work of the local farmers during rice planting.
A short walk
6. Remains of Shimoakasaka Castle
Right next to the "breathtaking view" point of the terraced paddy fields are the remains of Shimoakasaka Castle, designated as a national monument in 1934. Masashige Kusunoki built Shimoakasaka Castle planning to welcome Emperor Godaigo and raised an army in 1331. However the Emperor was arrested and his son Prince Morinaga entered the castle. The battle with the Kamakura army after that is described in detail in the "Taiheiki". After his enemies resorted to starvation tactics, Masashige set fire to Shimoakasaka castle and fled to Kongozan on the night of October 21. Then he recaptured the castle in April, 1332. He built Kamiakasaka Castle 500m to the east, but again he was surrounded by the Kamakura army who cut off the water supply, causing the castle to capitulate. His army fled to Chihaya Castle. They say his army of 500 held out for 140 days surrounded by the Kamakura army of 50,000, playing tricks on them. In the village, there are remains of Kamiakasaka Castle with the shape of the keep, secondary enclosure, and bay enclosure still visible, and remains of Chihaya Castle which survived until 1392, the end of the Northern and Southern Dynasties. Masashige Kusunoki was swayed by the prevailing forces of the time, but he fought bravely using outstanding methods. Standing in the remains of ancient battlefields, maybe we can hear his war cry.
20 min by Kongo bus
7. Chihayaakasaka Village Municipal Kongozan Ropeway
About 5 minutes walk to get back to the bus stop in front of the junior high school, about 20 minutes bus ride and 10 minutes walk will take you to Ropeway "Chihaya Station". An exciting aerial jaunt to "Kongozan Station" 975m above sea level is filled with the nature of four seasons, cherry blossoms in spring, greenery in summer, red foliage in autumn, and tree branches covered with ice in winter. If the weather is fine, you can see the entrance to Koyasan hiking at your back and the control tower of Kansai International Airport on the left. It is a 6-minute ride, so don't miss it!
Adults ￥700 (children ￥350) single way, ￥1300 (children 650) roundtrip
6 min by Ropeway, a short walk
8. Kongozan "Road of Rhododendrons"
After being rocked on the Rope-a-way for about 6 minutes, reach the destination, Kongozan Station to find the Kongozan "Road of Rhododendrons" entrance on the right. From familiar flowers like rhododendron, Japanese kerria, wild azalea, to rare wild flowers like barrenwort and arisaema sikokianum, they are everywhere. Big trees such as quercus serrata stand tall, and enjoy the stroll in the woods. Some breathe deeply. Some take photos. Some are climbing down from early hiking. Everybody looks happy. After a 15-minute walk which feels very short, go to Chihaya Museum of Stars and Nature.
15 min walk
9. Chihaya Museum of Stars and Nature
Located at the end of the Kongozan "Road of Rhododendrons", the museum is of a nature-friendly eco-design (wind-power generation, wood construction, eco-roof, and bio-toilet). The slope from downstairs to upstairs is a time tunnel to introduce the history of Kongozan. A display of pieces made of natural material from the woods, a learning space for observing astronomical phenomena, beech trees, wild plants, wild birds and insects enliven children, and excite adults as well. Equipped with a huge astronomical telescope 400mm in diameter, you can also enjoy the romance of space.
10 min walk
A little walk from Chihaya Museum of Stars and Nature to the mountain top for about 10 minutes, you can reach the 3-story observatory. Go up to find an excellent view! You can enjoy views of Kinpusenji (Kinpusen Temple) and Ominesan (Mt. Omine) of Yoshino, a World Heritage, on a clear fine day. The fatigue of the day will disappear. It is a refreshing aerial deck.
10 min walk
11. Old Hinoki Cypress Bath at Konanso Inn
The walk around Chihayaakasaka Village is nearing its end. Finish up at Konanso Inn, near the Chihaya Museum of Stars and Nature. Wash off the sweat at the old Hinoki cypress bath. Old Hinoki cypress means those which had been over 2,000 years old in the high mountains of over 2,500m above sea level until they fell due to diastrophism or earthquake, and were piled up as if in sleep for 150-200 years. When it is processed to make a bath tub, a unique oil secreted by the wood is effective for promoting blood circulation and metabolism, also for calming down the nerves. This is very like a "woods stroll in the bath". Look out of the bathroom window, there stand mountains of deep green.
Bath use only, 11:00-15:00, ￥500 (closed on Tuesdays)
SOUVENIRS ：Don’t forget the variety of home cooking tastes at the gift shop of Konanso Inn.
NOTE ：Please park your car near the “Station of the Road” when you come to Shimoakasaka Terrace Paddy Fields. Also please refrain from walking into the rice fields.