Located in the geographical center of Japan, Ikushima-Tarushima Jinja worships the Shinto Deities Ikushima-no-okami, the God of Fertility and Vitality and Tarushima-no-okami, the God of Fulfilment. The architectural style of the main shrine is one of the oldest in Japan, located on a small island surrounded by a pond.
A second trip to Meigetsu-in, the Ajisai-dera famous for its 2,500 over hydrangeas. Managed to avoid the crowds, going there on a weekday early in the morning. Now I understand why it is called the Meigetsuin Blue, for the mainly blue hues of the hydrangeas here.
Odawara Castle, once stronghold of Odawara-Hojo clan, one of the most powerful clans in the Kanto region during the Sengoku period, was subjected to multiple damages due to earthquakes and demolition during the Meiji Restoration. The structures here today were reconstructed over the years, with the 3 levels, 5 stories donjon being recently renovated in 2016. Located in close proximity to Hakone, Odawara Castle makes a good day trip from Tokyo or a combined visit with Hakone.
Visiting the complex shrine of Lake Suwa, the Suwa Taisha or Suwa Grand Shrine, dating back to the late 7th century as indicated in the Kojiki. Enshrouded by conflicting myths surrounding its Kami, I was particularly fond of the ancient ambience of these shrines.
Eye-feasting on lush green landscape of Tonogayato Teien, one of the 9 Tokyo Metropolitan Gardens, located in Kokubunji of western Tokyo. Dating back to 1913 as a villa garden, Tonogayato Teien features a circuit style garden, centred on a pond of natural spring water.
Hoping to see some hydrangeas at the end of the Ajisai Matsuri at Fuchu-shi Kyodo no Mori Museum, located in western of central Tokyo. The park also features an open-air museum displaying old buildings of former merchant houses, town halls, farmhouses and school.
Often overlooked castle in Nagano prefecture, Takashima Castle proves to be a little special due to its brown exterior. Though the donjon, yagura and castle gates are reconstructions, a visit to this castle is recommended if you are visiting the Lake Suwa area.
Admiring the wild rock garden designed by Muso Soseki at Zuisenji, a Rinzai sect. of Zen Buddhism temple located in eastern Kamakura. Also called the Temple of Flowers, the flower garden in the temple features various flowers across the four seasons, and is especially famous for its plum blossom.
Taking a trip back in time, learning about feudal Kai Province’s pride – Takeda Shingen while visiting the shrine dedicated to this famous daimyo, famously known as the Tiger of Kai – the Takeda Jinja.
Exploring the ruins of Kofu Castle in the Maizuru Castle Park and stumbling upon unexpectedly pretty hydrangeas.
Hearing the weep of a dragon at the temple which was used to store Buddhist statues from Nagano’s famous Zenkoji during the Sengoku Period. The highlight of this visit is the Kaidan Meguri experience to find the lock to the hidden main statue.