I visited the shrine in December. This is definately not the time of the year, you should plan a visit. The shrine is really something. It is surrounded by trees. But without leaves, the impression is boring.
But let us go deeper into details ... The buildings are looking a little bit old. The paint is coming of at some places. But this also makes the shrine a little bit mystic and ancient; The honden is built on the flank of a hill. There are dozen of lanterns hanging around. Inside the shrine and on the balcony. Next to the honden there is a 13-story pagoda. I believe this is the only one in all Japan. There are a few more buildings. If you are there you should plan to stay one hour.
I saw a picture of the shrine during autumn color (second half of November!) in the internet. If I combine this with the impressions from my visit in December: Wow. It must be breathtaking during autumn color.
The shrine is outside Asuka and 12km away from the nearest train station. This is the station Sakurai. You should plan your visit by checking the bus connections from the train station to the shrine. I used a taxi a paid a fortune ($40 for one direction). -- If you plan to visit Asuka, Tanzan shrine and Hasedera Temple on one single day, think about it twice. You need either a really good plan and a clock or a rental car.
To sum it up: The shrine buildings are 4 stars. During winter time and early spring (trees still without leaves) I would give only 3 stars and suggest that you postpone the visit. The trouble of getting is in no relation to the result. BUT ... During autumn color I would give 5 stars, and recommend to visit the shrine.
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