There was rain in the night and the morning is damp and overcast. We set off for Chusonji, which is a heritage site. There are few people about as it is still quite early when we arrive. Rain is threatening, so we take umbrellas and start up the steep approach road to the temple.
There are the usual large cedars on either side but the land drops away to the right, giving, as we ascend, an intermittent view of the farmland spread far below. The avenue is dotted on either side with small shrines and, on the way up, we decide to take a closer look at these as we come down.
On reaching a large hall we are drawn to enter, as a large group of women are chanting, shaking bells and striking gongs in unison. A monk is making preparations for a ceremony but what the special occasion it is, we have no idea.
Inside, the Buddha image is large, gold and modern, circa 2011. Moving on up to the temple complex proper, we enter the ticket gate and go to the museum hall. Here there are some large bodivistas, Buddhas, deities? I am not sure of the terminology plus some relics, from the Konjikido, found inside the coffins of the Fujiwara family. The Fujiwara clan constructed the Konjikido to house a Buddha image.
Emerging from the museum, into now torrential rain, we make for the main attraction the Konjikido itself. We are surprised to find the Konjikido much smaller than the video in the museum led us to expect. The thing is rather fine and, as pointed out in the video, of exceptional craftsmanship. But as we are rather far away, such detail is lost on us. There is certainly lots of gold and mother of pearl inlay.The Fujiwara family was immensely wealthy from Torhoku gold and one gets the impression they were, no unusually, buying their place in heaven.
We are lucky in our timing, as while we are viewing the Konjikido the monks arrive. That is, an important monk with numerous attendants, protected from the rain by large traditional paper umbrellas, arrives plus the, aforementioned women of bells and gongs fame. The women are left outside in the rain.
Inside, the head monk begins to chant and all join in. The monk nearest to us is less than enthusiastic but the one next to him really enters into the spirit of the thing, chanting with vigour, despite appearing to be suffering from a heavy cold.
It is all over quite quickly and the precession reverses its course and once more the tour groups dominate the area. We return to the car getting colder and wetter, our umbrella not suitable for two, and fail to look at all the shrines on the road down, as we had intended.
＊admission fee ; 800 yen
＊Hiraizumi Maezawa IC (Tohoku highway) – pref.R.300 to Chusonji
＊20 minu. walk from Hiraizumi station
Pacific Coast again
Returning to the temporal realm, we make for a coin laundry and, washing in progress, eat a convenience store bento in the car. After lunch, and with clean washing packed away, we head northwest towards the Pacific again. We visit a fish market at Kesennuma but it, being late afternoon, is closing. There are large yellowtail on sale for 500 yen.
From this point we travel south down the coast, and note the same situation as further north. Every valley, that should house a fishing community, is either a wasteland or a construction site and, frequently, a mixture of both. The work has progressed less here and the vast sea wall is less evident. The emptiness is sobering as are the vast piles of debris to be glimpsed in secluded side valleys.
We arrive at michi-no-eki Jobon no Sato well after dark. Unusually, it has a restaurant open until 7 and, it being cold and damp, we eat there rather than cold food in the car.
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.