Oct. 24th. 25th. 2022,
Michi no eki Kudoyama is very good with easy access to Koya san. This, of course, means it will be very busy at weekends. From the michi no eki, we set off for Nara and, prosaically, a coin laundry.
In the afternoon we visit Okadera, founded about 1300 years ago.
More recently, an enterprising person has set up a car park on the approach to the temple. When we arrive, we assume this is the temple car park, usually free, and are surprised to be charged 500 yen. Walking up to the temple proper, we see a notice informing us that the car park below is a private enterprise entirely separate from the temple. The fee to enter the temple is 400yen.
Luckily, the temple proves to be quite interesting. The main image is a very large (nearly 5 meter) Buddha figure ‘Nyoirin Kannon’. A powerful image of an unusual grey colouration.
This image we are very lucky to be able to walk behind and view some important artifacts that are usually out of bounds. There was an interesting image enclosed in a clear crystal ball. I was not sure what that was all about, and D. could not enlighten me.
D. collects a Goshuin, and the monk tells us the main Buddha is made of “tsuchi” or soil. I suspect he means it is of unfired clay. This kannon is venerated to protect one against misfortune.
We should have known this before we parked the car.
From the main building, we wander the hillside precincts of the temple and view a scummy, trickle of stream, a well, a grotto with a dimly lit statue and a puddle on the floor. The statue is Morokubosatsu, due to arrive a few million years hence to save us all.
Climbing some steps, there is a graveyard and a hideous statue of a prancing, female figure on a grey cloud. This courtesy of the welfare department. From the sublime to the ridiculous.
Nevertheless, this is an interesting temple to visit.
From here, it is a short drive to Asuka Temple. Founded in 596, it is the oldest temple in Japan.
The main image is the oldest bronze Buddha in Japan. It would appear only the head is bronze the rest seemed to be “tsuchi”.
Serious, spiritual contemplation of this important religious and cultural image was difficult as there was a four-bus load contingent of schoolgirls making a contemporaneous visit.
We wander out behind the temple to the spot where some famous semi mythical figure was executed and then farther where farmers are stooping rice sheaves and burning stubble. And then further still where there is a blaze of pink and white Cosmos.
Photographic urges satisfied; we return to michi no eki Resti Karako Kagi but first take a bath at Nara Kenkoland. This is an onsen and amusement centre combination. It is a good place to get clean but expensive. Good facilities but without the periodic discounts (Oct. / Nov. Seniors 600Yen half price) it is a bit steep. I think the entrance fee gives you access to lots of amusements I have no interest in.
Ferry to Shodoshima
Resti is restful. There are a number of overnight vehicles 15+, I suspect. One is a Toyota Prius with a large flat box on top. This excites a ripple of interest when it opens into a tent. This is the first time I have seen this. I have noted the odd car with similar boxes on top and wondered about its function – ok, a tent.
Leaving Resti, we drive to Kobe Port. Although I want to take the regular roads, time constraints mean we are in danger of missing the ferry. Reluctantly, we descend into the highway tunnels under Osaka city. Not pleasant. Consequently, we arrive at the ferry terminal with about an hour to spare. Erring on the side of caution.
Only three vehicles for Shodoshima, the others are trucks bound for Shikoku.
＊Setouchi through ticket (Jumbo Ferry) : Kobe-Shodoshima-Takamatsu 14 days ticket ; 2,200 yen / adult
On arrival, we shop for dinner and stop at Shodoshima olive park. Here we pull into the sub car park on the opposite side of the road and well below the michi no eki itself which is high on the hill above. This car park is large, empty, dark and lonely, with a dark and basic toilet. No, not so basic, surprisingly it has a washlet!
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.