My first trip to Shikoku – exploring Shodoshima Island! Walking up a flight of stairs and rocks to see these pile of rocks called Kasaneiwa, which is not known whether it was formed naturally or not. Still a wonder how these rocks piled on top of each other.
A walk to Tenjoji near Kikuseidai of Mt. Maya, I was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful dry landscape garden of the temple, and the heaven-like atmosphere of such serene temple. The viewing platform, Tenku no Daibutai offers a good view of the Seto Inland Sea, Awaji Island and the Akashi Bridge on a clear day.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Quiet day at the Nyakuichioji Jinja in Omachi. In July, the shrine hosts the Nyakuichioji Jinja Reisai, a festival centering on kodomo yabusame (child horseback archery), which is rare in Japan.
Continuing my temples visit in Bessho Onsen, I visited Kitamuki Kannon, literally “Facing-North Kannon”, which is unusual as temples usually faces south. This Tendai sect. temple faces the Buddha statue in famous Zenkoji in Nagano directly and is popular as a love fulfillment spot.
Visiting Anraku-ji, the oldest Soto sect. of Zen Buddhism temple in Nagano which boost the only surviving octagonal pagoda in Japan. Located near Bessho Onsen, 30 minutes away from Ueda city, this temple deserves more attention for its history and links to Kencho-ji’s Rankei Doryu.