Treasures Off the Beaten Path- Yawata
I live relatively close to Kyoto, the unofficial capital of Japanese heritage. I’ve always cherished the city for its accessible nature and ancient sites- but I’ve discovered lately that even smaller and more obscure locales boast their own, more underrated treasures.
Enter Yawata, a small city right on the border between Osaka and Kyoto prefectures. Developed in the 1970s as a suburb of Osaka and Kyoto, Yawata is actually a lot older as a town, if not necessarily well-known. The old town wraps around a lone hill called Otokoyama- and that is where I came on a hunch.
Otokoyama is the site of Iwashimizu Hachimangu, a sprawling shrine to Hachiman dating back to at least the 9th century. Hachiman is an interesting and complex figure in Shinto/Buddhism, an ancient Japanese god of war who became reinterpreted as a more peaceful bodhisattva, a guiding and tutelary figure in Buddhism whom several emperors were said to be avatars for.
Though not famous by any means, Iwashimizu is considered an important national historical site as almost all the structures in the complex, even small wooden shrines, date back to the 17th century.
Now that I know what underrated sights wait just off the beaten path, I ought to make a point of visiting more of Kansai’s “boring” suburbs in search of old treasure.