Soul of the Garden

Images of Japan: Kasuga Taisha, Nara

Founded in 768, Kasuga Taisha is the "home" temple of the Fujiwara clan, one of the most prominent families in Japanese history. Kasuga is considered to be among the most important Shinto taishas or shrines in the nation. Located in the hills above the Nara Koen (or park) and the impressive Todai-ji temple complex, you approach Kasuga Taisha on walkways lined with thousands of beautiful stone lanterns. Once inside the complex hundreds of metal lanterns adorn the walkways. All of the lanterns are lit just three times a year for special festivals which must be truly magical to experience. Even on an average day, Kasuga Taisha is a wonderful "highlight" for those visiting Nara. I fell in love with the interior walkways with their brilliantly painted columns and eaves - one of my favorite moments of our trip!

Stone lanterns line the entry porch.


Peeking through a gate into the courtyard of the complex.


The interior courtyard. Note the wisteria vine trained onto its wooden supports. They were just beginning to bud and were everywhere inside of the compound.


The columns with distinctive trusses and eaves.


A glimpse past a column.


The interior lanterns.


Imagine them lit at night.




I love the stone footings for the columns -each one is different.


Another detail.


A lantern alley.

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