Sunday, 16 December 2007

Temple No.3 Josen-ji

Yesterday I made the (approximately 12km) round trip to Temple No.3 Josen-ji. When I stopped for directions from the guy at Bike shop (in hindsight decidedly sadistic), he recommended the curly 'traditional' hiker- and bicycle-only route straight (up and) over the mountain that involved a very steep climb past the Italian Pinokio restaurant and meander along the summit's rural sun-glowing plateau, whereupon I diverted into a graveyard (Seichi Koen) to confirm directions once more, feeling like my route was clearly not the one on my map (verified) and took the a hair-raisingly steep and curvy plunging descent into the valley on the other side of Mount Buko, returning via Yokoze-machi. Due to my circuitous route, it was dark by the time I returned to Chichibu City. The Kannon itself is elaborately decorated in ancient-looking wood carving of birds and a dragon with a large copper roof and set into the steep hillside of cyprus. According to Enbutsu's Chichibu: Japan's Hidden Treasure book, the Kannon Hall was originally built inside Chichibu Jin-ja from handsome donations of silk merchants and following the feudal age when there was a schism between Shinto and Buddhism, the Buddhist Kannon Hall on the Shinto premises was forced out and thus moved to the current site in 1870. Although it is winter and hence the attractions cannot be observed, there is a pond flanked by irises, azaleas and hydrangeas that bloom in summer. Briefly, on the previous afternoon, I revisited Temple No.26 En'yu-ji and encountered the delightful purple berries pictured.