Ikoma and Heguri

Parks in Ikoma and Heguri

There are many worthy visiting spots in Ikoma City other than Hozanji Temple which is still the most popular among visitors. They include a modern amusement park, a large bamboo garden and a natural park with camping sites. Ikoma is now counted as one of the most comfortable areas in Nara Prefecture due to its amenities, atmosphere and location where one can easily get to Osaka, Nara and even Kyoto. This page also includes some spots in Heguri Town.

Takayama Bamboo Garden and Museum

Takayama Bamboo Garden and Museum, or Takayama Chikurin-en, is a place specialized to bamboo and traditional bamboo crafts. Takayama is the name of the area where Chikurin-en locates and is famous for bamboo crafts especially chasen tea whisks. Chasen is the must item for tea ceremonies and have been crafted by unique hereditary skills since the time of its invention.

The history of chasen dates back to the 15th century while the area was still governed by Takayama clan. It was first created by Soetsu Takayama upon the request of a Buddhist monk called Murata Juko, who were his friend and the founder of Wabi-cha style of tea ceremony. Secretly preserving the crafting skills, the clan exclusively produced chasen and held the largest share of the market. Takayama’s bamboo products include other tea utensils and knitting needles which gained a particular reputation in the mid 20th century.

Chikurin-en is not just the place of wandering around. There are events and activities throughout the year. Demonstrations of chasen crafting are held regularly by professionals and visitors can enjoy matcha green tea making with chasen tea whisk facing the Japanese garden. During the two-day evening festival held in October, Chikurin-en particularly bustles with many visitors who expect bamboo sculptures, temporary lanterns and candle illuminations which decorate the garden. The festival includes music performances of traditional and modern works played by reputable musicians.

Takayama Chikurin-en opens throughout the year except the beginning and the end of the year: i.e. from December 27 to January 5. Admission is free but fees are required for experiences and special courses etc. Address is: 3440 Takayama-cho, Ikoma-shi, Nara. For more information, click the icon and consult the official website.

 

Ikoma Sanjo Amusement Park

Mt. Ikoma is located on the border line between Osaka and Nara Prefecture. It is not quite a high mountain but the ridge has been seen like a lighthouse that fills people’s sense of direction. In reality, near the peak of the mountain, there has been a tower used as an equipment of an amusement park since it was opened in 1929.

The park is called Ikoma Sanjo Yuenchi, or Amusement Park, and is the only facility of this kind in Nara Prefecture. It has well more than 20 attractions and a largest playground in Japan supervised by famous toy manufacturing company. The park is currently targeted for kids, but anyone could enjoy award winning panoramic views from the top of Mt.Ikoma. ‘The views are absolutely breathtaking. You will surely remember them forever.’ As Cameron Stadin, an advisor for COOL JAPAN council, puts it, the views include Nara basin, Osaka plains and beyond. Some rides lift visitors to even higher altitudes.

Entrance is free but there is a charge for each ride. The playground is also the pay facility. A public transport is available to get to the park. It is the oldest cable line in Japan and has also been used as a commuter train by locals since its first operation in 1918.

The park is completely closed roughly from December to mid March, otherwise it opens except Thursdays. Always beware of the weather condition. Address of the park is: 2312-1 Nabata-cho, Ikoma-shi, Nara. For more information, click the icon and consult the official website.

 

Ikoma Sanroku Koen

The name can be translated as Ikoma Mountain Park. It is a large natural park with a multipurpose facility that includes accommodation, athletic fields, conference rooms, playgrounds, public baths, restaurants, tennis courts, and camping sites. One of the main attractions of this facility is the camping site that provides all the necessary outdoor equipment include tents, tarps, BBQ grills and dutch ovens. Camping may be the best way to enjoy the real mountainous atmosphere of Mt. Ikoma to the fullest. There are log cabins too but reservation is essential particularly for weekends.

The address of the park is: 2088 Tawaraguchi-cho, Ikoma-shi, Nara. The park opens throughout the year except Tuesdays from October to May. As other public parks in Ikoma it closes around the end and the beginning of the year. Some facilities need to be reserved in advance. For more details, click the icon and consult the official website.

 

Nishinomiya Burial Mound

A burial mound, Kofun in Japanese, refers to a tomb for a powerful clan mostly built around from the middle of the 3rd century to the 7th century. In Japan, mounds built as a keyhole shape, circular shaped toms with rectangular frontage, are most symbolically represented among various types of the mounds. Nishinomiya Burial Mound, however, does not take the familiar key hall shape but a three stepped simple square shape. Each side of the mound is about 36 meters and 7 meters in height and significantly the mound was covered by stones arranged like tiles.

The dead had been buried with so called Haniwa clay dolls that shaped like humans and animals at the discretion of Emperor Sujin instead of living subordinates since the 4th century. Haniwa is thus the common burial items of an excavation but due to the grave robbery, which is also very common, no items as such has been excavated from this burial mound. There is an empty stone coffin without the rid in the pit and is open to the public unlike many tumuli. This burial mound seemed to be the subject of worship for Buddhist monks of the early modern times but the details are unknown.

There are over 2,000 burial mounds in Nara area, and a number of them are found in Heguri region which was in ancient time ruled by a powerful clan with the same name. Misato, Udozuka, and Nishinomiya are among them. What distinguishes the Nishinimiya from the rest is rather the environment; it adjoins redeveloped park provided as not only a resting area but also a bearing for locals and visitors alike.

Nishinomiya Burial Mound is located at the center of Heguri valley: on a hill from Tatsuta river towards the west. The nearest station is Tatsutagawa Station on the Kintetsu Railway line. It opens throughout the year and possibly all day and night. No entrance fee is required. The address is: Nishinomiya, Heguri-cho, Ikoma-gun, Nara.

 

Guided tours are provided by Kenichi Nakatsu who is an official tourist guide interpreter of Nara Prefecture. Living in the north western edge of Nara, Kenichi works as a guide to introduce relatively unknown along with the famous spots of this insightful region of Japan. Special tours will be made according to the request. For more information and queries, please contact Kenichi Nakatsu.

Note: all photographs are taken by the author unless otherwise stated. No part of this website may be copied, reproduced, saved or reused.

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