Jyobon no Sato
Noisy morning, as the road station – Jyobon no sato – serves as a rendezvous for construction workers, trucks and machinery. The toilet is vast and, like the whole of the road station, uses a lot of timber in its design. Its walls, due to the lattice design of heavy timber, are a series of square recesses, some of these are decorated with vases of flowers and one has a rather nice sumi-e of Dharma.
Time to head to Matsushima, as D. is determined to visit Zuiganji; a temple she visited on a solo trip as a high school girl and has never forgotten.
This temple suffered tsunami damage. The avenue of cedars was, sad to say, mostly destroyed. This spring, the temple re-opened to the viewing public but, there is still obvious re-construction work in progress.
The entrance pathway follows a cliff in which a large number of caves and niches have been cut. These were used to store the ash of human remains.
The main temple building is of a simple design though, the interior is lavishly decorated with carved depictions of flowers, birds and so on. These are all painted in bright colours. The fusuma (sliding screen) are also finely painted by a famous artist (whose name escapes me), though the colours are so strong, I am sure they are not original.
We later learn that they are indeed copies. The originals, after many restorations, have been retired to a museum. A few of the originals, however, are still on display in the temple as exhibits.
Indignant Monk’s Sumi-e
Another exhibit, is a particularly striking sumi-e of a stick and an accompanying farewell verse. These are the parting words of a head monk who walked out, to wander the world, after too much criticism. I am sorry, cannot find the name of this monk.
I know a picture of a stick does not sound that interesting but, go see it. There is another fine sumi-e, a picture, of this particular monk, by another painter. He was, he said, going to paint a Dharma but painted the indignant monk instead.
Altogether, a fine and interesting temple to visit. It has the added bonus of the interesting artwork and history of the Date family. Another, very rich and powerful, bunch buying their way to heaven, it appears.
＊admission; 700 yen
＊Sendai south IC(Tohoku highway) – Matsushima Kaigan IC (Sanriku Highway) – pref. R. 144
Time to visit and view Matsushima. Matsushima is reputed to be one of the three most beautiful viewing sites in Japan. We don’t take a boat trip to view the beautiful scenery, instead D. drags me round a fish market.
This is followed by a wander round Fukuura island, which is linked to the mainland by a bridge. From Fukuura we can appreciate Matsushima but, I have to admit, I am not that excited about it. The Pine covered islets dotted in a tranquil sea are, of course, beautiful but so are many other lesser known places.
Here, again, we meet more Pokemon-go fanatics.
Dake Onsen 岳温泉
Leaving Matsushima, we go south past Zao to Dake onsen in Fukushima prefecture, located in the Adatara highland. Here we enjoy a very pleasant bath (strongly acidic) but it is well past dark so we cannot gauge the surroundings.
Clean and warm we drive back down the mountain to a road station ‘Adachi‘ on Route 4. This is a huge place on both sides of the road. The toilet will be a bit of a trek in the middle of the night. There is a group of bikers, a bit noisy having fun but, they do not disturb us at all.
＊Nihonmatsu IC (Tohoku highway) – R. 459
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.