April 19th. 2023
Michi no eki Resty Karako-Kagi
Thunder in the night at Resty Karako-Kagi, but the actual downpour only lasted a few minutes. Resty, as I have said before is an excellent michi no eki for an overnight stay. Consequently, it is becoming known and popular. I think it would be very crowded – too crowded – on a three-day weekend for example. On a damp Wednesday night, there are perhaps 30 to 40 overnight vehicles, and the capacity is 75 cars.
Uji Byodo-in, Ten Yen Temple
Thunder in the night gives rise to a damp, foggy morning and the humid conditions persist all day. We set off to visit Uji Byodo-in Temple, the temple famous for featuring on the 10-yen coin among other distinctions.
D. and I first came here in 1979. From that visit we recall no other people at all. Now the place is thronged with parties of Chinese and school groups. Of course, it is just possible that in those days we were so wrapped up in each other that we failed to register the crowds.
The place is very elegant, with tasteful reflective ponds and artful trees but any chance of serenity was lost as the first bus arrived. Nevertheless, still worth visiting.
I confess, I was rather taken by the temple museum building which is relentlessly modern and concrete yet starkly pleasing. The museum holds a collection of 11th. century wood carvings of Boddhivistas. These helpful deities allegedly guide departing souls travel to the Pure Land in the West. A sort of spiritual JTB. Surprisingly, as this is World Heritage, there are almost no explanations in English.
Uji bridge and Ujigami Shrine
Despite the crowds, D. gets her Goshuin with ease and we leave the temple to wander over the Uji bridge. This is reputed to be one of the 3 earliest bridges in Japan dating from 606 CE. It has obviously changed a bit since then.
Over the bridge and on to Ujigami shrine which is a guardian shrine for Byodo-in. This is another world heritage site as the buildings are very old though sadly of little interest to the casual visitor.
Leaving damp misty Uji, we hit the highway to avoid the Kyoto/Kobe conurbation, then exiting at Okayama head for michi no eki Kayou. This place proves to be damp, deserted and wreathed in mist. To be honest, there are a couple of other shachuhaku vehicles, but the odd weather has covered a wide area.
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.