Sakurai city is located in a fairly rural part of Nara prefecture, in the central east near Mie Prefecture, and is famous for being in the center of political and economic life in ancient Japan. Some of the famous shrines include Omiwa temple and Tanzan shrine, Kasamayako shrine and Tamatsura shrine. Sake dealers often hang a wooden sugi ball made at Omiwa shrine as a talisman to the god of sake. Buddhist temples in the area include Miwasanbyodo-ji, Hasedera, Asukadera, Tachibana-dera, Seirinji, and Abe Monjuin.
Sakurai-shi has an estimated population of some 63,000 people (2007). There are a number of walking tracks in and around Sakurai area. Yamanobe-no-michi is said to be the oldest road in Japan, stretching about 18 km, and is dotted with old temples and burial mounds, some dating back to between the 2nd and 6th centuries. Some say that Omiwa Shrine is the oldest in Japan.
Specialties in the area are wood and somen (Japanese vermicelli) which can be eaten either hot or cold. Because of its rural location the mountain landscapes are very beautiful, especially during the spring and autumn seasons. For more information on Sakurai area, as well as walking maps, go here: