Autumn leaves at Torimiyama: Where ancient people’s voices are alive

By Akiko

You become excited each time you come here. Breath-taking red leaves in Autumn. Peaceful snow in Winter. Overwhelming Tsutsuji fragrance in Spring. Dazzling green in Summer.

Torimiyama Kōgyoku-ike in November: Gorgeous landscape with clear autumn blue sky

Recent excavations found crystal pieces from over 3000 years ago. Ancient Jōmon and Yayoi people must have either lived or camped here for hunting purposes. The rich nature must have made this place a perfect site for hunting and gathering.

Kōgyoku-ike in October.

Standing by the calm water of Kōgyoku-ike, you can spend hours imagining life at Torimiyama 3000 years ago.

‘Feeling the gentle autumn sun on his back, a young horseman is on a hunting trip. His long hair is tied above both ears. He wears a white linen coat, and a sword on his belt. A young lady is picking chestnuts for supper. She wears a deer skin coat, her hair hangs down to her shoulders; a lilac coloured crystal sparkles at her neck. The red leaves shine against the blue sky.’

November: Pampas grass dances in the wind

I recommend that you walk—not drive—to the top. You can hear the voices of ancient Jōmon/Yayoi people. If you are lucky, you may find the crystal piece from the young lady’s necklace shining in the woods.

Warm sun light reaches us between the trees even in winter.

The ultimate reward after the walk is a sense of achievement when you reach the observatory. I wonder if Japan’s legendary first emperor Jinmu also stood here and admired the magnificent Mt. Nijo, Mt.Katsuragi and Mt. Kongo beyond the mist. This place is ‘Divine’.

Sun set seen from the observatory
The view from a viewpoint (not the observatory). Multiple viewing spots are available.
You never become bored even if you climb here everyday.

According to Japanese legend, 2600 years ago, Jinmu (who later became the first emperor) passed through Uda, led by a three-legged crow, Yatagarasu, which had been sent by the god, Amaterasu. He then became the first emperor and built a sacred site to pray in the 4th year of Jinmu.

Torimi Shrine

Torimi Shrine’s colourful curves remind me of the ancient plants and animals of Japanese mythology. This will be a perfect journey, if you like walking or imagining meeting with the gods.

Torimi Shrine in snow


I am from Okuyamato, Nara, Japan (she/her). Have lived in Pakistan, Sudan, Jamaica, Fiji, Viet Nam, Maldives, and UK. Currently painting Japanese style paintings.

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