Sakurai City (桜井市)

Sakurai City is a city located in the middle of Nara Prefecture, Chuwa area.

This city has a long history: fragments of clay pots of the Jomon period and the Yayoi period can be found in ordinary fields. A lot of ancient tombs including keyhole-shaped mounds of the Yayoi period or the Kofun period (tumulus period) have remained until nowadays. Therefore, this city is thought to have been a central area in the Yamato Dynasty. The earlier part of the Yamato Dynasty is also called the Miwa sovereignty, and 'Miwa' is thought to suggest present-day Miwa area.

Sakurai City has a lot of historically famous shrines and temples, including Omiwa-jinja Shrine, which is called the oldest shrine in Miwa, Hase-dera Temple, Tanzan-jinja Shrine and Tomi-jinja Shrine in Tonomine. Since the city has a long histroy from the religious viewpoint, it is a very important area to study "forms of ancient religions." Tsuchibutai (present-day, Sakurai park) is said to be the birthplace of public entertainment and is sometimes called "Manyo no akebono no chi" (place of the dawn of Manyo).

Sakurai City marked its 50th anniversary on September 1, 2006 and made a new start as a city.

Geography

The western and northern parts of the city are located to the southeast of Nara Basin and form a relatively flat rural zone; this area constitutes of a downtown location, the center of which are Sakurai Station (Nara Prefecture), places around Miwa Station and along Route 165. From the southern to the eastern part, Ryumon Mountain District soars, and the cool climate enables to produce Yamato-cha tea leaves and somen (Japanese vermicelli). Settlements in the mountain area have serious depopulation problems, which makes a contrast with the situation of downtowns at the foot of mountains.

Population

statistical report of Nara Prefecture

60,762 people as of October 1, 2007

Population growth rate (2002 to 2007) -2.4%

History

On April 1, 1889, Sakurai Village was established in Toichi County according to the enforcement of the village system.

On November 18, 1890, Sakurai Village was changed into Sakurai Town according to the establishment of a municipal organization.

On May 23, 1893, Osaka Railway (Sakurai Line at present) was set up.

On March 29, 1896, Toichi County was merged with Shikijo and Shikige Counties to become Shiki County. Sakurai Town belonged to that County.

On March 10, 1942, Shikishima Village of Shiki County was incorporated into Sakurai Town.

On March 3, 1954, Abe, Tonomine and Asakura Villages of Shiki County were incorporated into Sakurai Town.

In July, 1954, a boundary was changed and as a result, two 'Oaza' of Kasama and Yasuda belonged to Haibara-cho, Uda County (Nara Prefecture).

On September 1, 1956, Daifuku and Kaguyama Villages of Shiki County were incorporated into Sakurai Town, which became Sakurai City according to the enforcement of municipal organization. On the same day, Izumi City was established in Osaka Prefecture.

On September 30, 1956, Kaminogo Village of Shiki County was incorporated into Sakurai City. A boundary was changed, and as a result, Oaza Ikejiri, Minamiyama, Kaige, Kinomoto, Shimo Yatsuri, Kashiwade, Deai and Degaito belonged to Kashiwara City.

On February 23, 1959, Hase-cho of Shiki County was incorporated into Sakurai City.

On April 1, 1963, Omiwa-cho of Shiki County was incorporated into Sakurai City.

On April 1, 1969, a boundary was changed, and as a result, two Oaza of Tsunogawara and Yanagi belonged to Haibara-cho.

Special local products

Since Sakurai is a distribution or trading center for wood from different areas in Nara Prefecture, lumbering is active. Therefore, Sakurai is famous as "a wood town"and the city actively promotes its wood such as holding fairs of wood products and opening workshop using wood for children and the local people.

Sakurai is also famous as a place for producing satsuma mandarin (Citrus unshiu) and a lot of farms produce satsuma mandarin in the mountain area. Many part-time farmers produce hand-stretched fine white noodles as their side business, and the noodles are famous as "Miwa Somen," one of the three greatest hand-stretched fine noodles in Japan and are greatly loved. Since the noodles are ordered and produced in an off-season for farmers, most workers are homemakers who work part-time.

Friendship cities

In Japan

Kumano City (Mie Prefecture) - friendship city signing on October 28, 1986

Taisha Town (Shimane Prefecutre, Izumo City, present day) - friendship city signing on October 2, 1989

Outside Japan

Chartres City (France) - friendship city signing on April 22, 1989

Museum

Center For Archaeological operations

Daifuku Kibi Siryokan Museum

Traffic
Since a lot of people commute to Osaka by using Kintetsu Osaka Line, Sakurai Station is very crowded in the mornings and evenings. Others commute in the direction to Kyoto and many use Kintetsu Osaka Line to go to Yamato-Yagi Station, where they can go directly to Kyoto. Visitors to Omiwa-jinja Shrine for 'hatsumode' (the practice of visiting a shrine or temple at the beginning of the New Year) mainly use JR Sakurai Line, and at that time Miwa Station is dozens of times as crowded as usual. Route 169 is also used.

Famous sites, historic scenes, sightseeing spots, rites festivals and events

Shrines

Kasayamako-jinja Shrine

Omiwa-jinja Shrine

Tamatsura-jinja Shrine

Anashinimasuhyozu-jinja Shrine

Tanzan-jinja Shrine

Sumo-jinja Shrine

Tomi-jinja Shrine

Temples

Hase-dera Temple

Hoki-in Temple

Abe Monju-in Temple

Shorin-ji Temple

Byodo-ji Temple, Mt. Miwa

Keiden-ji Temple

Kodo (ancient method, ancient moral teachings, the way of learning) (hiking trail)

Yamanobe no michi Road

Hakusemichi Road (Ise-kaido Road)

Iware no michi Road/Yamada-michi Road

Tonomine-michi Road

Ossaka-kaido Road/Obara-michi Road

Historic sites

Hashihaka-kofun Tumulus

Makimuku Remains (officially-designated historical site)

Yamada-dera Temple ruins (special historic site)

Abe-dera Temple ruins (historic site)

Sakurai Chausuyama-kofun Tumulus (historic site)

Obara-dera Temple remains (historic site)

Rites and festivals

Yamato Sakurai Manyo-matsuri Festival

Onpara-matsuri Festival (Tsunakoshi-jinja Shrine)

Haru no Omiwa-sai Festival (Omiwa-jinja Shrine)

Nyodo-sai Festival (Omiwa-jinja Shrine)

Kemari-sai Festival (Tanzan-jinja Shrine)

Kakitsu-sai Festival (Tanzan-jinja Shrine)

Ise daikagura (Tamatsura-jinja Shrine)

Monju-oeshiki at Abe Monju-in Temple