The Yamanobe Way

The Yamanobe Way

Nara City, Nara Prefecture


The Nara-Yamato Road in Summer

Now is the Season (4/5)

4: The oldest road known in Japan – The Yamanobe Way


Photographed on August 4th, 2003

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The Yamanobe Way

Nara City, Nara Prefecture


The Nara-Yamato Road in Summer

Now is the Season (4/5)

4: The oldest road known in Japan – The Yamanobe Way


Photographed on August 4th, 2003


One source claims that the Yamanobe Way (“Road at the Side of the Mountains”) is the oldest road in Japan, and is moreover mentioned in the Nihon Shoki – the ancient chronicles of Japan.

This time, we walked along this road for about 16 kilometers, from Ishigami Jingu to Omiwa Shrine. Cloudy skies until yesterday gave way to bright sunshine. We started by praying for a safe journey at Ishigami Jingu.


This road – actually more a path – once linked the ancient cities of Asuka and Heijo, and seems to cleave its way through the woods. But then it opens up in front of you, leading to the mausoleum of the Emperor Sujin. In the distance, you can just make out the expansive scenery of the Nara basin, and what looks like the three mountains of Yamato.


Perhaps the composers of the ancient Manyo poems also saw this sight. The narrow road continues to wind along the foot of the mountains, before taking a break at Chogakuji Temple. Here, our sweat-soaked journey is about half-way through. Now we walk through a calm pastoral landscape, push our way through to a small mountain path, and finally arrive at Miwa Shrine, which reveres the whole of Mount Miwa as its shrine deity. This is said to be the oldest shrine in Japan.


Stooping under the noren curtain of a shop selling “Miwa Somen Noodles”, I wonder if they had somen noodles in the ancient era. But in this hot season, chilled Miwa Somen help us forget the rigors of our long journey.

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