The village of Asuka, the first capital of Japan 明日香村

Unmissable place in Japanese history

The village of Asuka was the first known capital of Japan but is today less known. Asuka and its region conceal many discoveries that deserve a visit: ancient Japanese tombs, the first Buddhist temple, or even vast landscapes of rice terraces...

Asuka, the first historical capital of Japan


Asuka is a village located in the center of Nara Prefecture, in the Kansai region. It is located just 40 km southeast of Osaka and is easily accessible by car or train.

The Asuka region is very valuable from a historical and archaeological perspective. At the dawn of Japanese history, the first known emperors decided that their kingdom needed a permanent capital: the village of Asuka, at the foot of the mountains, was chosen and hosted palaces and temples for more than a century. Giving its name to the Asuka period (飛鳥 時代), which extends between 538 and 710.

Around 710, the emperor finally left the city to install the capital in Nara, and history turned away from the small town.

Today, there is a collection of Buddhist temples and archaeological sites that illustrate the first centuries of Japanese history. The place is rather accessible, only 25 km from Nara 






Vue sur Asuka et ses rizières

Wikimedia Commons

What to see in Asuka


Asuka is home to a number of must-see kofuns .


  • The Ishibutai tomb is arguably Asuka's most important kofun. This megalithic monument of the seventh century served as the burial of nobleman Soga Umako. The old and rugged construction impresses with its massive and powerful character.

  • Takamatsuzaka's tomb. This circular kofun was built between the late seventh and early eighth century. Known for its colorful wall fresco and depicting courtiers. A replica can be admired in the fresco room, the original being kept for protection. 

To go further: Kofun, the ancient Japanese tombs


L'entrée du kofun d'Ishibutai

Wikimedia Commons


Détail de la fresque de la tombe de Takamatsuzaka

Wikimedia Commons

Address, timetable & access

  • Address

  • Timetable

    Access to Kashihara/Asuka: Archaeological Institute and Kashihara Shrine: From Nara Kintetsu Station direct to Kashiharajingu-mae (43 min, 1000 JPY) Tomb of Ishibutai and Asukadera: Continue on the Nara Kintetsu line to Asuka Station (1090 JPY) then take a Kame Loop bus (250 JPY) which goes to all Asuka sites and returns to the Kintetsu line at Kashiharajingu-ma station. Tanzan, Muroji, and Hasedera temples: Take the JR Sakurai line from Nara Station to Sakurai Station (30 min, 320 JPY) then take a bus to Tanzan-jinja station (25 min, 490 JPY) . For Hasedera temple, change at Sakurai on the Osaka Kintetsu line to Hasedera (42 min, 580 JPY). Hasedera can be reached by a 15 min walk. For Muroji Temple, continue to Muroguchi-Ono (54 min, 680 JPY) and take a bus to Muroji-mae (15 min, 430 JPY).
  • Access

    Archaeological Institute: Open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, closed Mondays, free Kashihara Shrine: Open daily 6:30 am to 5:00 pm, free Ishibutai Tomb: Open daily 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, JPY 250 Asukadera Temple: Open daily 9:00 am to 5:30 pm, JPY 350 Tanzan Temple: Open daily 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, JPY 500 Muroji Temple: Open daily 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, JPY 600 Hasedera Temple: Open daily 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, JPY 500

Our activities in Nara

  • Duration : 8 hour
  • Location : Nara
Discover all our activities in Nara (169)

Our tours in Nara

  • Duration : 13 days
  • Locations : Tokyo, Hakone Mt Fuji, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Miyajima
  • Duration : 14 days
  • Locations : Tokyo, Hakone Mt Fuji, Kyoto, Nara, Koyasan, Osaka
  • Duration : 12 days
  • Locations : Tokyo, Mt Fuji (Kawaguchiko), Osaka, Himeji, Kyoto, Nara
  • Duration : 12 days
  • Locations : Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Kawaguchiko, Tokyo
  • Duration : 21 days
  • Locations : Tokyo, Hakone Mt Fuji, Kyoto, Nara, Koyasan, Osaka, Kobe, Takachiho, Kumamoto, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Miyajima
See all our other Tours (5)

Latest Articles

Le temple Todaiji à Nara

One day visit to Nara

Spend a day in Nara to see where the arts, architecture and Buddhist religion first flourished.

Japan Visitor - imaicho-2020-1.jpg

Kashihara Guide

Kashihara Guide: Imai Town is an area of preserved Edo and Meiji period buildings in Yagi, Nara near Kashihara Shrine.




See All (17)