## The site of one of Japan's earliest, grandest imperial capitals
Kashihara in rural Nara Prefecture is a quiet place steeped in history and conveniently close to another ancient capital, Asuka.
Kashihara is accessible by train to Kashihara-jingu-mae.
From Tokyo or Kyoto: Take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen to Kyoto Station. Change to the Kintetsu Line, which has a rapid express train that reaches Kashihara-jingu-mae in about an hour.
From Osaka: From Abenohashi Station in Osaka, it takes an hour on the Kintetsu Minami-Osaka Line to reach Kashihara-jingu-mae Station.
From Nara: From Kintetsu Nara Station, it takes about 50 minutes on the Kintetsu Line to reach Kashihara-jingu-mae Station via Yamato-Saidaiji.
Fujiwara-kyo in modern-day Kashihara was the imperial capital for a mere 16 years between 694 and 710. The imperial palace site is now covered by fields of seasonal flowers. Fujiwara Capital Museum offers a look at the area's past.
The three Yamato mountains of Mt. Kagu, Mt. Unebi, and Mt. Miminashi were incorporated into the old capital. They are celebrated in some of the oldest poetry anthologies and are still linked by pleasant walking trails.
From Kashihara-jingu-mae Station, you can reach Kashihara-jingu Shrine within a few minutes on foot. It is dedicated to the first non-legendary emperor of Japan, Jimmu, and the site is hailed as the spot where he took the throne. After visiting the shrine building, stroll in its peaceful surroundings, which include a large lake.
Skip forward ten centuries and you find Imaicho, a mere 20-minute walk north of the shrine. This atmospheric Edo-period merchant quarter has some 500 traditional buildings still intact, many of which have been converted into shops and cafes.
Kashihara is a short train ride away from the archaeological sites, temples, and burial mounds at Asuka, which served as the capital prior to Fujiwara-kyo.