Kimiidera, Negoro-ji and Kokawadera temples, Wakayama 紀三井寺
March 29th. Wednesday
Onsen no Sato Kamiyama and ferry to Kii Peninsula
Onsen no Sato Kamiyama belies first impressions and is a good spot for an overnight. We leave early, as we have a ferry to catch in Tokushima. But first, we stop in Kamiyama to admire and take some pictures of the fine cherry blossom display. The cherry blossom is everywhere along the road.
Kamiyama provides free parking, but we are the only vehicle before 9 am on a Wednesday. It is a beautiful morning of bright sunshine. Good viewing weather, but very difficult to capture the delicate beauty of a cascade of blossom without the intrusions of the modern world.
After wandering a while, we leave Kamiyama and arrive at the port in time for our ferry. This is a trip of about 2 hours and a half to Wakayama.
＊Nankai Ferry ; 12,440 yen (web) / a car with a driver + a passenger
Once on the Kii Peninsula, we take the opportunity to visit Kimiidera. This was very busy. We had not considered that the temple might have cherry blossom. Apparently, it is famous in the Kansai area because it blooms early. We join the throng to visit the temple and view the blossom.
The first thing you notice at the front of temple is the stairs. There are 231, and some people think it is too hard to climb so the temple has provided an elevator. What would the Tibetans think? In fact, the temple is trying hard to be barrier free, so also installed a cable-car in 2022.
Kimiidera was built more than 1250 years ago and was the main temple for the Kishu Tokugawa family.
＊Kimiidera ; 400 yen / adult
From Kimiidera we move on to Negoro-ji. Here again Sakura was the attraction. There was a free car park, a site of some confusion. No elderly gentlemen giving direction. The approach to the temple had a line of festival food stalls.
Negoroji has a long history, being an offshoot of Koyasan and had a few hundred academicians. It was founded by a monk called Kakuban in 1140 who died 3 ears later. His tomb Negoroji Okunoin , (see below) is an interesting structure.
Sadly, the temple complex because of its political allegiance or power it fell afoul of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and was, essentially, destroyed in 1585.
Now, there are a few significant buildings and a lot of empty space. One, Daito was built 1547 but somehow spared in Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s attack. This tower is a national treasure but, unusually, you can enter and view the inside of the building.
There were few people at the temple site so we concluded that the cherry blossom must be in a different area.
＊Negoro-ji ; 500 yen / adult
From Negroni we move on to Kokawadera. This had few visitors but for us was the most worthwhile. It has a magnificent gate ’Daimon’ in the same shade of muddy red as Koyasan.
There is a spectacular arrangement of large rocks fronting the main hall, which is a huge, splendid structure. This may only be viewed from the outside. Its sacred images are hidden from casual view in the inner sanctum. There is, however, a prominent sign for 100-yen fortunes.
The temple was founded in 770 and became very prosperous having more than 500 monasteries, but Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s army mostly destroyed it 1585. Then in the Edo era the temple was rebuilt and protected by the Kishu Tokugawa house.
Temple visiting done, we set off for Kudoyama michi no eki for the night. This is a place with a vast car park but relatively limited facilities where we have stayed at least twice before.
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.