Thursday, July 20, 2017

Shinsho-zen-ji temple has all you would like to see and experience

The Temple is off the beaten path; yet I met a young woman somewhere from the west, a handsome backpacker whose backpack was as a serious backpacker huge. But she found the place and saw all.

This was my second time; the first time I saw Fujimori's architecture and all the premises. This time, in addition to wondering around the whole grounds, I went into the Hakuin Room gallery and Kotei installation. These two were new, from last year (2016).

This is a perfect site where you can get in touch with Zen, Japanese gardens, old and new-style architecture, and artwork of water and light. All in one.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Bicchu-matsuyama-jo castle stands on granite base

Japan has 12 central castle keeps from feudal times. Most of the castle buildings are now gone and people tend to refer to castle towers as castles themselves. There has been a movement to restore their castle towers as a pride of the community and now people would like to have a wooden authentic castle tower constructed in the traditional way. 

The remaining castle buildings and structures at Bicchu-matsuyama-jo castle stand on top of the hill and the hill is practically made of granite. That made the stone foundation walls there quite unique and wild and powerful. I got awe-struck by looking at them!
The city of Takahashi, Okayama is seen from the castle hill

The two-layered turret behind the main castle keep 

substancial meal after a temple visit

Try Sanuki Udon noodle in Kagawa - once called Sanuki - after a temple visit. Join the locals eating there!

Visit temples in Shikoku by aerial cable car

There are four temples in shikoku that you can visit by cable car. Three of them are aerial cable cars. All are religious and spiritual yet so pleasant and enjoyable.

Here are some pics from a visit to Unpen-ji temple in Tokushima Pref. on the island of shikoku. 
The cable cars are operated in Kagawa but the temple lies just a short distance away from the border between Kagawa and Tokushima and stands in Tokushima. In fact, the two prefectures are divided by a road and on the road are the borderline and the names of the two prefectures painted.

The cable car ride is fantastic with great views. Down below are seen the city of Kan-on-ji with great many reservoirs, the inland sea, and the islands. When it's sunny and clear, part of Hiroshima Prefecture on Honshu island is visible beyond the sea. The summit area is 6 to 7 degrees Celsius cooler than the bottom. So refreshing and mind-cleansing. It's good to pray quietly once in a while even if you are not seriously following Buddhism. A precious opportunity to tidy yourself up.

The temple is splendid with very impressive statues of disciples of the historical Buddha. It's one of the Shikoku 88 pilgrimage temples. The pilgrimage route and temples are believed to be established by Kukai, the founder of shingon true-word school of esoteric buddhism who was active in the 9th century. People clad in a white jacket and a conical straw hat are frequently seen. They are touring from one Kukai's temple to another though the tour does not have to be in strict order and they can visit according to their plan. You could be even a one-day pilgrim and join those who are praying in front of the main hall and kukai's hall of the temple.  

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tonaru district in Besshi: heritage of industrial modernization

I always wanted to go there and finally made it to the TONARU district of the former Besshi copper mine operated by Sumitomo, one of Japan's major businesses. Almost forgotten in the mountains, but now recognized its historical value again, the former mountain community with 5000 people living at its peak is attracting people's attention. The legacy remains there. A bus tour is available starting at Minetopia Besshi. In a small bus, the tour takes you to Tonaru in 20 minutes. A local guide accompanies you during the tour and gives you interesting insight and more thought than you would not have otherwise. Highly recommended but only in Japanese. I wish I could just hire this small bus and the friendly and knowledgeable local guide and translate the guide's talk to the visitors from abroad. It was a fantastic tour. 

mountain train!

Ores once gather

Transport system!

with the Inland Sea in a distance

And flowers ...

shimanami cotton gloves look cute

Here's what I got the day before at a store in the shimanami cycling area.  Good during a bike ride. Made in Japan. That's rare!

Mt. Ishiduchi and surrounding mountain range

You can go there by aerial cable; just 8-minute ride but you go up about 1000 meters. An easy hiking can be enjoyed there. If you try the summit of Ishiduchi, it's a real climbing but very rewarding for serious climbers. But not for everybody of course. 
Here's some pics:
Jojusha shrine and the peak of ishiduchi

surrounding mountains