Oyamato Shrine is located along the Yamanobe no Michi, the oldest road in Japan. It was designated as one of the top 22 shrines in the nation during the Heian Period and the Imperial Court made special offerings here. During WWII, it was the shrine of the ship Yamato, which sank in the war.
Entrance to the shrine grounds are free.
The Tenrikyo Church in Tenri is the headquarters of the Tenrikyo faith, a New Age religion founded by Miki Nakayama who claimed to have had a vision in which she was told she was God's shrine. She took a vow of poverty and dedicated her life to the promotion of her faith. She is said to have had healing powers and the ability to see the future.
Although Tenrikyo is a monotheistic faith and its religious buildings are called churches, it is not a Christian denomination; it has Buddhist influences.
The church grounds are large and pleasant to roam around. Entrance is free, and non-believers are permitted to enter the main temple. There are always people praying inside and it is interesting just to sit and watch and listen.
Isonokami Shrine has a long history. It was mentioned in the Manyoshu, the earliest collection of Japanese poetry. In the 7th century, it was the shrine of the Mononobe clan, who also used it as an armory. Some of these remain treasures of the shrine. During the Heian Period, the Imperial Court made offerings here and designated it to be one of the top 22 shrines in the nation.
It is located on the Yamanobe Road, the oldest road in Japan. You can still hike here on the road to Sakurai City.
The architecture of the shrine feels both familiar and unique, and the area is very peaceful, except for the roosters! There are many roosters roaming free on the shrine grounds. I asked the shrine's priest what the significance of the roosters was, and he explained that there is actually no tradition or religious significance to them at all!
Entrance is free.
Tenri Station is served by Kintetsu and JR Railway. From Osaka, you can take JR Railway and transfer at Nara to get to Tenri. If you are near Tsuruhashi Station, take the Kintetsu Line to Yamato Saidaiji Station and transfer to the Tenri Line to reach Tenri Station.
From Kyoto, take the Kintetsu Line south to transfer to the Tenri Line (you can do this at Yamato Saidaiji or Hirahata).