A shrine on the hillside, to offer wonderful views on the surrounding mountains from its red wooden terrace.

Tanzan Jinja「談山神社」, located in the Sakurai mountains in Nara is a shrine well-known for its brilliant autumn colors and bright red buildings.

It enshrines Fujiwara no Kamatari, the founder of the famed Fujiwara family, who exerted huge political influence during the Heian Period (794-1185).

About one hundred steps lead from the torii gate to the main buildings on the hillside. A unique 13-story, 17-meter tall pagoda stands at the top of the steps, which was re-built in 1532 during the Muromachi Period.

tanzan jinja torii
● About 100 steps from the torii gate
tanzan jinja pagoda
● Autumn leaves flamed the 13-story pagoda

The shrine is composed of various buildings. Among them, the Haiden, a worship hall, has an open beautiful terrace decorated by traditional lanterns. It offers wonderful views on the surrounding mountains in all seasons, particularly during the autumn color season.

tanzan jinja balcony
● A view of autumn colors from the terrace.
tanzan jinja
● A beautiful scenery along with lush green.

Tanzan Jinja becomes quite crowded when the autumn colors are in their best usually in the second half of November. The bright red, orange and yellow leaves shine in blue sky, marking a beautiful contrast with the surrounding mountains. There are also several food stands lining the approach to the shrine, offering various local foods and products to visitors.

Visitors can walk to the place where Fujiwara no Katamari and Prince Naka no Oe met in a forest of cedars, 10-minute walk from the shrine.

They plotted to eliminate the poweful Soga family after playing a game of “kemari” , a traditional game played with a ball made of deer leather. It lead to the introduction of the Taika-no-kaishin reforms, one of the turning-points of Japanese history, which strengthened imperial power.

tanzan jinja main hall
● The main hall and the pagoda.
tanzan jinja kemari
● The kemari game in Heian period clothing.

In April and November, traditional games of kemari are held with players in Heian period clothing to commemorate the the source of the creation of the shrine. The shrine is also well-known for the cherry blossom viewing in spring. It’s a wonderful and culturally rich experience with spiritual refreshment.

Address : 319 Tonomine, Sakurai, Nara

Access : There is a direct bus from Sakurai station on the JR Manyo-Mahoroba line, and the Kintetsu Osaka line to Tanzan Jinja (25-minute, 490 Yen, 8-10 buses a day)

Hours : 8:30 to 17:00

Admission : 600 Yen

November : Check the event schedule

tanzan jinja lit up

Tanzan Jinja Shrine Autumn Lit Up

3,000 of maple trees are lit up creating a fantastic scenery along with a unique pagoda and a wooden terrace decorated by traditional lanterns.

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