1300 years ago, the wisteria blossoms which make up the crest of the Fujiwara clan which built Kasuga Taisha have a special beauty
Kasuga Shrine which is located inside Nara Park has continued on from ancient times with its brilliant red shinden, its beautiful cloisters. Its red appearance among the lushly green cedar grove at the bottom of Kasugayama Primeval Forest evokes that mystery of a sacred country of the Far East. The gorgeous main building that has also been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site has splendor and grace. It has an appearance as a sacred place that would be appropriate to enshrine a god.
1300 years ago, the powerful Fuhito Fujiwara, during the age when the capital had been transferred to Nara, prayed for the country’s safety and prosperity and had a shrine built in the Kasuga area so that the local god of the Fujiwara clan could be enshrined there. Upon the arrival of this local god to the new shrine of Kasuga Taisha from Kashima Jingu in Ibaraki Prefecture, there was a story that it arrived on top of a white deer, and thus the custom of placing importance on the deer as sacred messengers was born. Because of this, there are many deer inhabiting Nara Park around Kasuga Taisha as designated Natural Monuments, and through its long history, an amicable relationship of co-existence has developed between deer and people, and the former continues to be loved by the latter.
Kasuga Taisha boasts an unchanging beauty throughout the year, and the season of the wisteria which is also the crest of the Fujiwara clan is special. From the end of April to the beginning of May, when you enter the south gate, turn left and go beyond the Keigamon Gate, the blossoms on the wisteria trellis open and the splendor of Kasuga Taisha is further increased. The flowers grow as much as 1 meter and since they almost reach the ground, they are known as sand-scraping wisteria. The history behind these wisteria trees is long and it’s said that they are 700 years old with important flowers that are irreplaceable for the shrine.
Also, if you’re going to visit during this season, please drop by Manyo Botanical Gardens. The ancient Japanese plants depicted by the poets in the Manyoshu long ago are raised within a natural elegance. At the Fuji-no-En (Wisteria Garden) inside the gardens, 200 wisteria of 20 different species blossom and their appearance is gorgeous in itself.
There are more than 1000 events throughout the year at Kasuga Taisha, but since there are many events that can be generally visited, come and visit according to your schedule. Within those, during the special services known as the Chugen Mantoro held within the cloisters in February and August, 2000 stone lanterns and 1000 hanging lanterns are lit which create a wondrous atmosphere.
Finally, try pulling fortune slips for luck. The ones at Kasuga Taisha have cute deer figurines offering the fortunes. Whether or not your luck is good or bad, it’s fun considering the deer. As well, the Fuufuu Daikoku-sha Shrine at the back of the shrine is famous for being a power spot for a happy marriage and for that encounter with Mr./Ms. Right, so visiting it is also a very intriguing proposition.