About the Author:
Travel has always been one of my passions. There was a time in my life when I thought I would never stay anywhere long enough to put down roots. Then I met my wife and we decided to start a family in Japan. I moved to Osaka in 2015 and I am always seeking out new experiences in this incredible country.
I love cycling and it is one my favorite ways to get around in Japan. When I saw the opportunity to do a cycle tour that included a visit to Takiharagu and a Matsusaka Beef BBQ lunch, I knew this was something I would really enjoy. It is always the blending of traditional Japanese culture and modern conveniences that make me appreciate this amazing country. A perfect example of this was my schedule for the day of visiting a sacred shrine and traveling by E-bike through a small town to eat a local delicacy at a traditional guesthouse.
For ¥13,000 (plus tax), the tour package included my E-bike rental (with helmet), my Matsusaka Beef BBQ lunch and a route map. I decided to add a guide for the day, so I wouldn’t be cycling alone. If you prefer to ride on your own, you can just pick-up your E-bike and cycle to your stopping points using the provided route map.
On the day of my bike tour, the weather was perfect and I met my guides at Takiharagu. I was looking forward to spending some time at the shrine in the morning before picking up my E-bike. Walking up to the unpainted torii (traditional gate to a Shinto shrine) at the entrance, I immediately felt the importance of the site. Once inside, the first thing that I noticed was the sheer size of the cedar trees along both sides of the path.
Caption: The torii at the entrance toTakiharagu.
Caption: My guides at Takiharagu showinghow massive some of the cedar trees are.
Caption: The only tree at Takiharagu with aspiral bark pattern.
Caption: That side path led to a beautiful spot next to the river.
Caption: The ancient stone steps led me back to the main shrine area.
When I reached the main shrines, my guides provided me with some details about the deity that was enshrined here, the sun goddess Amaterasu. It is said that over 2,000 years ago, as Yamato Hime no Mikoto was searching for a place to enshrine Amaterasu, she was so moved by the natural beauty of the area that she decided it was a worthy of the goddess. The two main shrines of Takiharagu are beautiful wooden structures and I was surprised to see how new they looked. What I came to learn was that every 20 years the shrines are dismantled and then rebuilt. The caretakers of the shrine have repeated this process now for hundreds of years.
Caption: The main shrines where visitors can make offerings and say their prayers.
Caption: The design of the main shrines is simple and natural.
Caption: The previous location of the two main shrines before being dismantled and rebuilt.
Caption: Our E-bikes were a perfect way to get around.
Caption: Heading into the forest along side a rushing river.