Asuka (飛鳥) refers to the south-eastern part of Nara Basin, which mostly overlaps with contemporary Asuka Town (明日香村), in Nara Prefecture.
Asuka is the land where Japan has developed into a centralized state than a collective sovereign between 6C AD and 8C AD. Imperial palaces were built on this ground to form an ancient capital city of Japan, Asukakyo (飛鳥京). It is widely considered as the first capital city of Japan.
Numerous burial mounds and ruins of ancient buildings are discovered and preserved in Asuka, thus making the whole area itself a big historical museum that attracts so many visitors.
 Get in
 By train
Kintetsu railway is by far the most convenient transportation method for tourists.
From Osaka, take subway or JR to Tennōji station. Walk to nearby Ōsaka Abenobashi station and take a train that heads for Yoshino (吉野). Both limited express and express trains departs about twice per hour. Limited express isn't much faster than express trains. It grants you a seat, but doubles the fare. The trip to Asuka takes 40~45 minutes.
From Nara, go to Kintetsu Nara station. Take any train departs from this station and change at Yamato Saidaiji to trains for Kashihara Jingu-mae(橿原神宮前), on Kashihara Line. From Kashihara Jingu-mae Station, change to Kintetsu Yoshino Line and get off at Asuka (飛鳥) Station. Otherwise, local bus services are available from Kashihara Jingu-mae Station to destinations in Asuka. Avoid taking limited express trains (called Tokkyū / 特急)) on the way because it won't save you much time. Express trains departs about twice per hour. The trip to Asuka takes 50~70 minutes depends on which train you take.
From Kyoto, go to Kintetsu Kyoto station. Take a train that heads for Kashihara Jingu-mae. Both limited express and express trains departs about twice per hour. Limited express is about 15 minutes faster and grants you a seat, but doubles the fare. From Kashihara Jingu-mae Station, change to Kintetsu Yoshino Line and get off at Asuka Station. Otherwise, local bus services are available from Kashihara Jingu-mae Station to destinations in Asuka. The trip to Asuka takes 65~95 minutes depends on which train you take.
Asuka is geared more towards the domestic rather than the foreign tourist, and as such English signs/menus are relatively scarce. For example, as of March 2010, very little non-Japanese information/signage was present at the Asuka Historical Museum. When you arrive Asuka station, be sure to visit the information center on the left hand site when you leave the station. They may have the only English map you can find here.
 Get around
Kame Bus (かめバス), is a bus service that tours around major sight-seeing spots including Kintetsu Kashihara Jingu-mae and Asuka Stations, and a one-way trip between the two stations, through Asuka Town takes around 35 minutes. The bus runs about twice per hour on weekends, but only once per hour on weekdays. A One-day Free Ticket is available at ¥650
Bicycles are available for hire at most accommodation locations around Asuka Town, and dedicated bike/pedestrian paths connect the main historical/sightseeing attractions around the town. Where no bike paths are available, the roads are generally slightly wider and quieter than in the cities, although caution is advised in the narrow main streets of Asuka town, where vehicular traffic can travel alarmingly quickly. There are also rental shops around the train stations and major sight-seeing spots, but whether they speak English or not is unknown.
Generally the roads and paths are relatively flat, and a gearless bike will suffice (and tend to be more common at the hire outlets); however, a geared bicycle would be helpful for getting up the few gentle slopes around the town.
It is also possible to walk around the town if you have a few hours to spend. The town itself is quite peaceful and feels different from other major tourism area in Japan. If you happens to get a English guide map, it has a recommended walking route marked on it. However only some of the road signs around the town are bilingual.
[add listing] See
[add listing] Do
During strawberry season (apparently from January until the end of May) all-you-can-eat strawberry picking is available. Price and time limit probably differ depending on the greenhouse you go to.
[add listing] Buy
Out of the station, cross the street at the lights, and on your right you will find a small farmers' market. Fresh strawberries (of the Asuka Ruby variety), Japanese apricots (ume, 梅) to make umeshu at half the supermarket price, and a great variety of other local produce is available. May be seasonal only.
[add listing] Eat
As you walk out of Asuka Station and pass the bike rental shop on your left, you will see a sign for a cafe and small hotel a 150 meters to the right. Follow it, and you'll find yourself in a restaurant with an attractive classy interior that doesn't seem to belong in Japanese inaka. Try the hayashi rice, it's heavenly.
[add listing] Drink
[add listing] Sleep
Asuka B&B () is a clean and welcoming Continental-style B&B with Japanese elements. European and Japanese-style rooms available. Private toilets and showers in all rooms; shared Japanese-style bath. Bike hire is available.
 Get out