Although most travelers opt to visit the Nara City area, which is filled with impressive sightseeing spots that shouldn’t be missed, the rest of the prefecture has plenty to offer the discerning traveler. Hasedera temple in Sakurai city, about 25 km south of Nara City, is the main temple of the Buzan sect of Shingon esoteric Buddhism. Along with a splendid history, it is also famous for its displays of seasonal flowers within the compound. The Eleven-Faced Kannon, known as the goddess of mercy, is the main object of worship and it is one of the largest wooden Kannon statues in Japan.
At the top of the 399 steps of the stairway, one is rewarded with stunning views from the temple’s wooden stage which juts out from its main hall. You can fully enjoy the crisp air and a refreshing sense of openness. There is nothing to block visibility and the panoramic view is available in its entirety.
Morning prayers, performed for over a thousand years, are conducted in Japanese, but this does not detract from the overwhelming power of the sound that echoes through to the core of one’s body. No matter how many times I come to this place, this often overlooked hidden gem always amazes me. Why don’t you get up early, take a trip down to Hasedera and refresh your soul with some morning prayers?