June 15, 2012

We love tragic hero.

This is a hidden tourist attraction in Nara! My impression when I came here first time  was  " Oh, This is the loveliest scenery in the most boring place".  Here is the rooftop of Nara Prefecture Office Building, the six storied modern building.

Here you enjoy is the 360 degree panoramic view of Nara City.

Whenever I stand here, I realize Nara is a basin surrounded with the lush mountains. Time seems to flow slowly and differently. In the olden days, Nara was called "Yamato".

I remember one tragic hero in a legend, Prince Yamato Takeru日本武尊 who  lived around the 1st century.

His Last poem. 
大和は 国のまほろば たたなづく 青垣 山ごもれる 大和しうるわし

There is no place better than Yamato.
Surrounded by the mountains, 
Ranging like verdurous hedges,
How beautiful Yamato is!
By Yamato Takeru
(Yamato is the ancient name of Nara and also Japan.)

Story of "Yamato Takeru", which was written by  Umehara Takeshi 梅原猛 for Super Kabuki, スーパー歌舞伎,  is following.
While trying to stop his twin elder brother rising  in rebellion, Takeru kills accidentally his brother. Their father, Emperor, gets angry with Takeru and orders him to conquer the enemies in a remote area. As soon as  he completes his mission, his father dispatches Takeru to other enemy lands. The father never forgives Takeru or welcomes him in his hometown, Yamato. Takeru loves his father, but the father seems to want Takeru to die. When he fights against the deity of Mt. Ibuki following the order of his father, Takeru seriously gets  injured and ill.  On the way back to Yamato, he becomes unable to move anymore and dies dreaming of Yamato. The above poem is mentioned by dying Takeru. This story has a consolation. His soul transforms into a big white bird and flies away to Yamato. He can go back to a beautiful Yamato at last!

Did he dream of these mountains?

His sad story has been written by many writers. The Japanese sympathize with and love tragic heroes. Next month, July in Tokyo  "Yamato Takeru" written by Umehara Takeshi will be performed in Super Kabuki. Since the premiere in 1986, this play has been performed more than 800 times. Super Kabuki is different from traditional classic Kabuki 歌舞伎 which has a lot of customs or  rules, and whose language is rather difficult. Ichikawa Ennosuke the third created Super Kabuki, スーパー歌舞伎 transcending the customs and rules, still being based on the essence of classic Kabuki. He put more entertainment-type elements, such as acrobatic actions or extravaganza stage settings, on Super Kabuki, and made language easier. Super Kabuki focuses on 3Ss, "Story, Speed and Spectacle" while keeping attractiveness which the classic Kabuki has. 

New Ichikawa Ennosuke, who is The Forth, plays "Yamato Taketru".
Here Takeru's soul transforms into a big white bird and flies away to his hometown, Yamato.

This tragedy has touched people's heartstrings for a long time. The story about a deep conflict between a parent and a child, has eternal appeals in spite of nationality, culture, time and more. 

Now let's enjoy a lovely scenery of Nara City from the rooftop. 
The five storied pagoda of Kofuku-ji temple  and a dramatic sky in the south . 

In the east, you see the Great Buddha Hall of Todai-ji temple.
The clouds are casting shadows and slowly passing over the mountains.
 People in the 8th century, when Nara was the capital of Japan,
watched the same scenery. 

Anybody can use a restaurant.

Again go back to the rooftop where the sun is setting in on Mt.Ikoma separating Nara and Osaka.

At the entrance, looking from the inside to the outside.

Nara Prefecture Office Building


  1. You are surrounded by so much beauty! (I grinned at your comment that it's seen from such a boring place.)

    I know very little about kabuki, but I looked on YouTube for Ichikawa Ennosuke, and there's a video that says he succeeded his father as "the fourth" just last month ... and the ceremony was here in Asakusa at Senso-ji! ^^

    PS: I love your new top photo of the pagoda and the hills and the sky.

  2. What a nice presentation about your favorite place, poem, and play and story. All the photos, which must have been taken over several times as a repeater, show how you love this place. I, too, have taken some foreign tourists there before sightseeing so that they can have an image of Nara and plus they have reasonable priced lunch. In some pictures, I feel like that I’m overlooking from that airship.

    When I see Mt. Kagu, Mt. Miminashi, and Mt. Unebi floating like small islands in the Yamato basin surrounded by mountains, I feel This Is Nara.

    Thanks for the video. Ennosuke’s “chunori” is breathtaking, flying on wires from the stage over the heads of the audience to the top floor. Really spectacular.

  3. I can see how this story captured the imagination of the Japanese people as it certainly does have all the elements of a very good drama. Thankfully the tragedy has a positive twist in the end. I would never have guessed from your first photo that this scene was on a rooftop overlooking the city and mountains. At first glance it looked like the walkways and benches were in a regular park. I also like the “doorman” at the entrance of the building. :)

  4. You are a true storyteller, Keiko!

    Posting pure photos is definitely not your style of blogging. You always take us away to a part of Japans past and present.
    So I'm already curious what kind of (your) tale will come next...
    ...but in the meanwhile have a great and pleasant weekend!


  5. Thank you for another look into your deep and interesting history. I adore the poem and story behind it.

    I've never seen such a wonderful roof. I can imagine sitting there and watching the sun rise and/or set over beautiful Nara.

  6. 先日は、この素晴らしい県庁からの眺めを案内してくださって有難うございました!今日みせて頂き見いた写真の方が、実際の景色よりも、ずっと素晴らしいと思いました。飛行船運行会社が休業状態と噂に聞いてましたので、飛行船が飛ぶことが有るのかなあ~~と、思っていたのですが飛んでいますね!写真は心で撮るものという事が、実感できるポストだと感じました。
    Have a great week

  7. You're a wonderful storyteller Keiko, and I'm happy that you share your beautiful surroundings with us. I like the shadows on the hillsides, the lovely blue skies, and the pagoda. the meal looks delicious. thanks for sharing with us. happy weekend to you.

  8. The view from up there is wonderful - I feel as free and happy as a bird up there in the blue.

  9. A few months ago, I saw the very long movie "Nihon tanjo", starring Toshiro Mifune. I didn't understand it at all, but reading your story I suddenly recognized it. Yes! That is the story described in the second part of Nihon Tanjo - the part that deals with humans rather than gods. Thanks for your explanation!

  10. I so enjoyed reading this! The Nara landscape viewed from the rooftop is beyond words! I'd love to visit the place and see the panorama of the city in the future! As for the Super Kabuki "Yamato Takeru", my husband and I are now planning to book seats. Thank you for the youtube video you've provided.
    Yamato Takeru is one of my favorite heroes in Japanese mythology. The pathos featured in his story is really impressive!

    ヤマトタケルが実在していれば、1世紀ごろというのは、皇紀による換算ですね。どういうわけか、Wikepedia ではそうなっています。お父様の12代景行天皇凌(伝)は、古墳時代前期(3世紀~5世紀頃)築造なので、皇紀で換算すると、タケルのほうが2世紀近く早く生まれたことになります。考古学的には、10代の崇神天皇陵も同じく古墳時代前期築造とされているのですが、このあたり、皇紀をどう考えるか、むずかしいですね。建国記念日もそうですが。

  11. Nara does seem like a charming place to live, not only the city but the area around it too.

    As you say, there is something universal in a tragic hero. It unsettles us, and keeps us thinking about the hero and his unfinished work. (Usually there is unfinished work with a tragic hero)

  12. 県庁の屋上がすばらしい展望台というのは聞いていましたが、なるほど一望できるのですね。


  13. I liked seeing Nara from the rooftop. It gives a perspective of the natural beauty surrounding the city. The one sky photo has clouds that remind me of a big white bird as you mention in the legend. Of course, I had to enlarge the photo of your lunch! I'm not sure what that says about me!

  14. 近代的な建物の屋上で、古代伝説を想う、、、。飛行船と五重塔の写真に象徴されるように長い時間のスパンを切り取った面白いポストですね。山々の映写が美しいです。

  15. It' interesting how the poem is still descriptive of the Nara countryside despite modern adventures with concrete and tarmac.I enjoyed the journey through your sequence of images and beautiful video clip.
    What is the food?

    Thank you Keiko.
    Happy weekend!

  16. 私はまだその屋上へ行った事がないので、ぜひ行ってみます。

  17. こんにちは。青空も夕日も綺麗ですね。


  18. Beautiful views and very good story.

  19. °`♥✿✿⊱╮

    Boa semana!

  20. Rurousha,
    This is my favorite place. You can see many tourist attractions, so if you have not enough time to go around Nara, visit here. Around Nara in 30 minutes on the roof top! My header is the sunset view of Five-storied Pagoda taken on the rooftop last year.

    This is the rooftop of a modern building, but still I feel ancient Nara, viewing the mountains. And I always remember the poem of Takeru.

    Aka Penelope
    Nara Prefecture Office converted an ordinary concrete rooftop to a small park with wooden decks, grass and benches. Until the building is closed, we can stay as long as we want. Some people take nap on benches.  There is a vending machine near here, so I drink a cup of coffee and enjoy the view!

    I am glad you like Kakeru’s story. Maybe this is the best place to think about past and present.

    Jill, you can stay here as long as you want while the building is open. Buy a cup of coffee in a vending machine near here, and enjoy the sunset drinking a coffee!

    Red Rose,
    一番上の写真は赤いベストのおかげで緑がきれいに見えるような気がして、好きな写真です。一眼レフとちがうんです。ここでの挑戦、これからも続けたいです。 まだまだ、これというのが撮れません・・・・・。「写真は心で撮るもの」素晴らしいお言葉です。はげみになります。

    The large cloud was passing over Mt. Young Grass, casting a big shadow. Just watching it was soothing for me.

    In a comfortable season, I sit down a bench, sipping a cup of coffee. I enjoy doing nothing here for a long time.

  21. 豊かな自然と伝統を守り、またそれらに守られている街に作られる公共施設がここまで豊かで美しい事が素晴らしと思います。東京の狭い土地に次々作られる奇をてらった建造物にはうんざりですし、街の夕景を見たいが為に高層階への入口に並び、数千円を払うのも考えれば情けない話しですね。(Θ_Θ;) おぅ!「せんとくん」は今でも現役なんですね。お疲れ様です。

  22. Marc,
    I saw that movie in a theater in my childhood. I just remember Izanagi and Izanami who are the parents of Japanese islands, and also it was extremely long. Interesting enough, Takeru’s sward passed down from generation to generation is the one by which Prince Susano killed Yamata-no-Orochi, eight-headed evil snake.


    I do not know if it is appropriate to call tragic heroes losers. Japanese have the traditional spirit called “Hangan Biiki” in Japanes. It means "sympathy for the losers" and we are fond of losers. “

    Thanks a lot for your kind comment.


    It takes only ten minutes’ walk from Kintetsu Nara Station. In the restaurant, try Oyakodon. It is a bowl of rice topped with chunks of Nara chicken cooked in soy-flavored sauce, and half cooked egg. Yummy!

    こんなに駅にちかいところから、青垣 山ごもれる 大和し麗し が実感できるのが不思議なくらいです。 母、主人、息子、ここへ来たすべての人が「おぉーー!」って言いますよ。

    Forest Dream Weaver,
    Here we can experience a kind of time slip or see a fusion of the modern and the ancient.
    The mountains change their faces every hour, every day, every month ・・・・・.

    三世猿之助のヤマトタケルをご覧になって、本当によかったですね。今ではもう不可能になってしまいましたものね。 Sapphireさんのところにも書いたのですが、先日、新聞で梅原猛氏が「先代の猿之助のタケルはより勇壮、新猿之助のタケルはより繊細であった。特に第三幕で故郷を前にしてむなしく死ぬ姿には、先代にはなかった哀愁がある。」とおしゃっていました。


    Gillian, Magia,
    Thanks a lot for your kind comment.

  23. Anzuさん、


    せんとくんは、今は衣替えをしまして、奈良時代の官吏のユニフォームをビシッときています。せんとくんも最初はひどいバッシングをあびましたが、そのおかげで興味を持ってもらい、人気が出始めて、今では奈良の人気者です。過去はtragic heroのひとりですね。ジョークで戸籍までつくってもらっています。

  24. Looks like you had wonderful views from your hotel. So even when you were not exploring Nara on foot, bus, car or train, you could still see beauty.

    I hope you are doing fine.

  25. This post has brought me another amazing virtual tour of life in Japan. I have a feeling that I know a couple of things about Japan :)

  26. Hello, snowwhite.

      Sense and expression.
      Aesthetically your work has been held by both.

      YES!! " MAHOROBA "

      The prayer for all peace.
      I wish You all the best.
    Have a good weekend. From saga, ruma ❃

  27. Olá!

    Bom fim de semana!

  28. What a beautiful and sad story – the spectacular mountains and landscape make it quite dramatic. Watching the sun set from the rooftop must be exhilarating. We watched the sunset oven the Mississippi river last week where the sky also became very red.

  29. Joyful,
    I call this wonderful view "Around the Nara in 30 minutes". When people do not have enough time to enjoy Nara, The rooftop is the best choice, where you can see many tourist attractions.

    All visitors say here "Beautiiiiiful!!" Every time I come here, I find something new and attractive!

    Thanks a lot for your kind comments.

    After rain, I have seen many times fog floating among the mountains. To see dramatic scenery is exciting and soothing.

    Thanks a lot for visiting and leavin your messages.


Thanks a lot for visiting my blog and leaving warm messages. I will visit your site soon. keiko