This morning we are off to towards Komoro to visit Shakuson-ji, also known as Nunobiki Kannon. This proves to be a very good choice far outweighing our expectations.
Unimpressive at first, the car park is an anonymous patch of gravel under some trees by the side of the road. There are steps leading upwards. Starting to ascend, We soon find ourselves in a narrow gorge with a small steam, moss covered boulders, tall trees and towering cliffs.
As we follow the steps upwards, the gorge becomes ever more dramatic until we come to a small temple gate on our right and high above clinging to the cliff face and supported by wooden pillars is a red painted temple building. This is Kannon-do. Climbing higher still we find wind chimes tinkling above our heads as we emerge at the main building.
This building is nice enough but the cherry blossom, fresh green leaves and yellow yamabuki flowers make a very attractive sight. This temple is not at the very top of the gorge and the cliffs still tower to either side.
It is possible to approach Kannon-do, on the cliff face, through a rough-hewn tunnel. From this building you get an excellent view of the main temple with attendant Sakura. This small red building also has in interesting ceiling. It is divided into squares, and each has a picture of its own.
Sadly, the weather is not kind, and we make this ascent is steady rain. The climb though steep and rather rugged is not so far about 20minutes but the contrast in worlds between the car park and main road at the bottom and this delightful temple hidden halfway up a gorge is vast.
Azumino and the work of Takata Hiroatsu
From Shankuson-ji we take the long and winding road back towards Matsumoto, stopping for lunch at a michi no eki. We then cross the mountains on Route 143. A narrow misty road to Azumino. Here we visit Azumino Municipal Museum of Modern Art Toyoshina to view the work of Takata Hiroatsu.
This sculptor caught our attention on a previous trip in Fukui city, so we were interested to see more of his work. Also, it was raining steadily. He produces heads and nudes and repeats his themes a good deal. The heads are predominately writers and philosophers, many of whom he knew in Paris. The nudes, young ladies.
For the night we drive in the dark, rain and rush hour to michi no eki Imai Megumi no sato.
＊Azumino Municipal Museum of Modern Art ; 520 yen / adult
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.