Tanzan Shrine


Skirting the narrow trail running crookedly up to the Tounomine mountain, you will meet the red roof of Tanzan shrine in a jumble with layer and layer of red autumn foliage of more than 3000 maple trees around the area. Perching precariously on the mountain side next to the historical Sakurai city, Tanzan shrine emits a gentle scent of historical and architectural beauty. It will definitely be the most picture of Nara landscape in any season by the continuously hard working of exciting cherry blossom in spring, vividly green trees in summer, gorgeous red leaves in autumn and romantic snow over losing leaf tree branched in winter.


Tanzan shrine was moved to the present location in 678 after being built in 668 in Asuka time of Japanese history, , specially, as a temple called Tonomineji, by the monk Joe, the eldest son of Fujiwara no Kamatari. To tell about Fujiwara no Kamatari, he was the founder of Fujiwara clan which had an important influence during the Heian period later. As a commemoration, Joe built Tonomineji temple to honor him. After the construction, many significant political meetings around the time of Taka reform were carried out here at the temple therefore they also called it the Mountain of Conversation. Luckily owning such a magnificent landscape, the temple welcomed much love from the the Emperor Daigo of the 9th century and the Emperor G-Hanazono of the 15th century. When the Fujiwara rose to hold the behind power of the throne in Kyoto, Tonomineji became one among the most favored temples by the Imperial family. During the Edo time, Tonomine temple and Tanzan shrine coexisted here and so as the Buddhism and Shinto, before completely being converted into a shrine during the Meiji Period.


Including a number establishments in different sizes with the Juusanjuunoto at the center, Tanzan Shrine architecture has preserved many characteristics of a Buddhist temple. The Main Hall is dedicated to Fujiwara no Kamatari, specialized by the gabled, cedar-bark covered roofs as the typical architecture of kasuga-zukkuri style originated at Kasuga Taisha. The consort of Fujiwara no Kamatari, Kagamino Okimi is enshrined at the smaller Koi shrine. However, the top attraction of Tanzan shrine is absolutely the 13 storied pagoda of 17 meters in height, believed to be the only if this kind across Japan. The pagoda was constructed to house the remains of Fujiwara patriarch but unfortunately burnt down in 1173, before the reconstruction in 1532. Tanzan shrine also houses a certain collection of important historical artworks dating from Heian and Edo periods including Buddhist scrolls, images, statues and swords.


The impressive figure of Tanzan shrine over seasons is believed to mainly created by over 3000 maple trees growing in the ground and surrounding area of Tanzan Shrine. In whatever kinds of rain, from slight rain of tiny mellow cherry petals, a little heavier rain of splendid red leaves, to an extremely heavy rain of white snow the 13 storied pagoda remains gorgeous and romantic. On April 29 and in the second Sunday of November, the famous Kemari Matsuri will be held at Tanzan shrine with football matches of old version taking place.

Open time: 

From 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Last admission at 4:00 pm

In season of red leaves, usually from November 14th to November 29th: from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm. The garden is also opened till 8:00 pm.


-Adult: 500 yen

-Preimary shool student and younger: 250 yen

How to access: 

-Take JR Line from Nara station to Sakurai station. Take bus from the south exit of Sakurai Station to Tanzan bus stop then take a 3 minute walk.

-Take the Kintetsu Line train to Kashihara Jingumae or Asuka Station, rent a bicycle or a scooter and ride about 6km up Tonomine Mountain to Tanzan Shrine.