The introduction of "Eight Scenic Views in Hirakata" started in October 1984 to commemorate Hirakata City's 35th anniversary. Based on the recommendations made by the people in the city, the eight views were selected as typical scenes of "my hometown Hirakata". It is hoped that these views will remain unchanged for a long time to come.
The Yodo River, known as “Mother River” from ancient times, is home to many animals and plants. Its beauty was so renowned that in 1826 Siebold compared it to the beautiful Mine Valley in his home country. During the Edo Era (1603-1867) the river flourished with many commercial ships sailing between Osaka and Fushimi in Kyoto. Hirakata port, situated in the middle, welcomed the ships stopping there before going to their destinations. Sadly, no ships can be sighted these days, but the river bank is now an ideal playground for children. Visitors to the park can enjoy its seasonal beauty. In spring Karashi-na’s golden color pleases the eyes and in summer Gama gives pleasure to those looking at its column-like line of ears. In autumn Manjyu-Shage, lycoris, adds colors to the bank and in winter many water birds fly in to entertain the visitors to the park. On some wintery days, the view of snow-covered Mt. Hiei appears behind Tenno-zan and Otoko-yama to give a pleasant surprise to visitors.
“Nihon Shoki”, Chronicles of Japan, states that Oodono Ookimi, originally from Echizen Fukui, was enthroned in Kuzuha in the year 507 and became Emperor Keitai. His Kuzuha Palace is have said to been maintained there for 5 years. The forest developed in the remains of the Kuzuha Palace is now found within the premise of Katano Tenjin Shrine. There, visitors meet two main halls of Katano Tenjin Shrine and Yawata Shrine after a stroll through the lines of stone lanterns. These halls are the products of the Muromachi Era (1336-1573) and follow an architectural style called "Ikkenshanagare-dukuri.” Their roofs are thatched with cypress barks. The forest is found on the right side of the shrines. Farther back in the forest there is a hill where Kifune Shrine resides. The hill and its surrounding area are believed to be where Emperor Keitai’s palace once was and are now designated as an Osaka Prefecture Historical Site. The forest is home to some trees from ancient Japan and allures visitors into looking back and admiring its long history. Ichiijyo Sanetsune, Chief Advisor to the Emperor and Minister during the Kamakura Era (1185-1333/38), left the following verse in the book “Zoku Kokin Waka-shu”: kumorajina masumino kagami kagesofuru kuzuhanomiyano harunoyonotsuki (the beautiful spring moon is reflecting itself on the mirror-like surface of the pond in Kuzuha Palace). The pond was famous for its clear water surface which presented stunning reflections of the moon to entertain those who came.
Hirakata and Katano areas were famous for their cherry blossoms. The beauty of the blossoms impressed many Royals in Kyoto and they did not hesitate to praise them in Waka, Japanese style poems. A collection of such poems is found in “Kokin Waka-shu” and “Ise Monogatari”. Here is one by Ariwara-no-Narihira in “Ise Monogatari”: “yononakani taete sakurano nakariseba harunokokoroha nodokekaramashi (If there were no cherry blossoms at all, people would have enjoyed peaceful time in spring. The blossoms of cherry trees are too beautiful for people to stay unaffected by them). Another poem is by Fujiwara-no-Toshinari, “matayamimu Katanono minono sakurakari hananoyuki chiru haruno akebono” (Will I be able to see this again? No, probably not. Cherry petals are falling like snow over us, an incredible scene I am experiencing now at dawn in Katano!). Makino Park, known for its cherry blossoms in spring, is located in the north of Katano Shrine. The shrine is magnificent with its architecture from the time of the Momoyama Era (roughly 20 years in the16C when Toyotomi Hideyoshi reigned). By the Meiji Era the shrine covered the area of 5 hectares or so. Now some of its sanctuary remains in the pine forest which belongs to Osaka University of Dental Science. The city of Hirakata inherited part of the sanctuary after WWII and converted it to Makino Park. Thanks to that, people in Hirakata can now enjoy seeing the cherry trees bloom in spring.
Yamada Ike, a pond located in Yamada Ike Park, is about 10 hectares and one of the largest ponds in Osaka Prefecture. Its history goes back to the Heian Era (794-1185/1192). It was a pond for agricultural water supplies. Some architectural remains and artifacts from even older periods such as the Yayoi Period (300BC-250AD) and Kofun Period (250AD-538AD) were dug out to prove that the history goes back even farther. The pond is now a home for many seasonal water birds. At its best during the pre-war period it saw over 10,000 kamo ducks. The surrounding area has a wide variety of trees, bamboo forest and green fields. It looks superb when irises come in season or young fresh green leaves start to grow. Despite being so close to the lively city, visitors can always enjoy tranquillity thanks to the geographical features which keep noise out. The views of the moon over the pond and as a reflection on the water have impressed many visitors for years and the pond is highly popular as a place both to relax and to enjoy natural beauty.
Kunimi Yama, Mt. Kunimi, is about 300 meters high and from its top visitors can see three rivers Kidu, Uji and Katsura, the city of Kyoto, and awesome mountains Hira and Hiei. Even farther away they can see the Yodo River running through a narrow gap between Iwashimizu Hatogamine and Tennozan before separating Settsu from Kawachi. Views from there include Mt. Rokko and Osaka Bay. Visitors can find the Municipal Nature Activity Center on their way to the Hodani area. There are hiking trails to Shirahata-ike, Kouno-san and Korondo-ike. Foot paths from Tsuda are well maintained and offer visitors wood covered viewing spots to enjoy wild cherry trees in bloom or just the fresh air for comfort.
Kudara Temle is believed to have been transferred to its current location from Namba by Kudaranokonikishishi in the late 8 BC and established as the sole temple for the whole Kudara clan. Only its remains stand now but the remains are considered historically valuable being awarded Special Historical Site status in March 1952. In 1966 some work to convert the neglected ruin into a park began and it was completed two years later. The park still has some of the base stones once used for pagodas and garan/temple buildings. What is left of the temple arrangement including Kondo/a main hall and cloister are now covered with shrubs and trees presenting an oasis for visitors. Pine trees there, old, black and red ones, allow the breeze to run through and embrace visitors. The temple was believed to have had seven halls at some stage. According to an excavation study underway since 2005, it was one of the highest-ranking national temples of Japan.
Mannenji Yama is a hill overlooking Hirakata’s old township of inns which once flourished along the Yodo River. The hill has a clear view of mountains in Settsu and Tamba and of the Yodo River on a fine day. Lying between the two capitals Kyoto and Osaka, it is rich with history. In Okami Shrine, located at its top, there is Mannenji yama kofun/tomb where eight bronze mirrors were found. Mannenji Temple is said to have its origin when Keikan, a Korean Korai monk in the time of Emperor Suiko (592-628), moved there because he liked the scenery which reminded him of China’s Ringankou. Since then, the temple was deserted following the Meiji government’s ordinance separating Shinto and Buddhism, its bell although locally loved was lost and the budda statues were transferred to Jyonenji Temple in Mitsuya. Visitors there may find stone pillars or stone pagodas engraved with “nagamatuyama mannenji”. Now the temple is known for its plum blossoms. Visitors can also enjoy views from the remains of Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s tea house.
Kouri housing estate took its current form in 1957. Before then the Japanese National Army had its arms factory there since 1939. Various trees were planted to go with the image of a New Town. Japanese Zelkova trees have now grown very tall. Their leaves, fresh green in spring and yellow and red in autumn, give pleasure to people who walk underneath. In winter, fallen leaves fill pavements creating atmosphere in usually empty grey streets. Also found are acer, Chinese tallow, and ginko trees. Acer trees are in the east of Kaisei Elementary School, Chinese tallow trees are lined up just before its main gate and ginko trees stand along “Icho Doori” (ginko street). All in all, Kouri housing estate is now a well matured town where people feel comfortable and relaxed.