I’m in full “countdown mode” these days, and very aware of my dwindling days in Japan. In a way though, it’s become a good thing. Knowing that I only have a couple of months left in this fascinating country has really given my spirit of adventure a boost.
Last July I went to a nearby area called Kanzanji with my friends. At that time, I spotted a tall Buddha statue peeping above some trees and vowed that I would try to go back there and find it. When I woke up on Sunday the sun was shining, and I decided it was as good a day as any for a Buddha hunt!
Armed with very little information, I hopped on the bus at Hamamatsu bus station (number 30 from bus stop 1) and watched the world go by for 45 minutes as the bus took me to Kanzanji. It only cost ￥550 (each way), which I thought was pretty good. I got off the bus at the Pal Pal (パルパル) stop (by number 7 on the map below). I remembered Pal Pal (an amusement park) from my previous trip.
On the map above, you can see the route I walked (if it’s too small, click on it and you can see a bigger one). Starting at the bus stop by the number 7 (roughly in the centre of the map), I walked left and up towards Kanzanji Temple to find the Buddha (black line). After visiting the temple and shrine (blue line), I made a brief detour to the beach area, then back past Pal Pal to Kanzanji Ropeway. I took the ropeway up to where the Orgel Museum is (although I didn’t go in). There’s also an observation deck up there, which was very blowy! I briefly stopped for lunch – a rice ball and some green tea, with a beautiful view, then made my way down the mountain on foot. It was a longer route than I imagined, but I’m glad I tried it because I had the chance to see a lot of countryside on the way. As I walked round I realised how close I was to Hamamatsu Zoo, and decided to pay it a visit (more about that here). After the zoo, I walked back down to Bay Street, where I caught the bus home (near the number 8 on the map). It was very very windy and I got quite “wind-burnt” as I was walking, but it was worth it all for the gorgeous views – I was so lucky with the weather!
Here’s the day in pictures…
My goal was to get here to this Buddha. I love big Buddha statues! 🙂
Even though Kanzanji is a temple, there’s a shrine right next to it, and the main entrance to the whole area is through a “torii“, a gate which indicates you are entering a shrine.
There was an unusual little building for “ema” (message boards):
People had also left some “omamori” inside, but I don’t really know why.
I found many smaller Buddhas on my journey…
This is Kanzanji:
Surprisingly, I can find very little written about this temple online.
The ceiling was really interesting:
When I bought an “omamori” (good luck charm) in the shop, the monk happily chatted to me – in English! He told me he was studying English because someone in his family had married an Australian. He was such a nice man, and thanked me for giving him the chance to practice speaking English!
It was a day of many steps, as usual…
As I walked the long way round to the Buddha, I felt like I was walking to the top of the world (even though it wasn’t really so high). And I was completely alone – just me and the gorgeous view!
Finally I came to the Buddha:
It seems Buddha has hung up his shoes to rest…
At the base of the buddha there were these two elephant vases. I wonder what the significance was?
On the way back down I stumbled upon this curious little cave full of “ema”…
Yes, I did actually crawl right in…
And yes, I did kind of feel like I was in a Ghibli movie!
Back down by the temple, I looked at the old shrine.
Walking back, I paused by the beach area. The wind was getting up and there were even some windsurfers out on Lake Hamana.
I was tempted to stop for “unagi” (eel) but resisted.
I was also tempted to stop at the “ashiyu” (hot spring bath for feet), but it was a bit chilly for taking my socks off and getting wet! (The water was lovely and warm though.)
I didn’t go in Pal Pal, but I had a great view of it from the ropeway.
It was a bit bumpy on the ropeway, because it was so windy. I love this ropeway though… Just the same as last time I rode it, the “elevator music” that they play on the way up is “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. That has to be a conscious choice!
It was far too cold and windy to stay on the observation deck for long!
Soon it was time for lunch. I found a nice little spot out of the wind, with a beautiful view. I’ll tell you, my rice ball sure did taste good after all that walking!
After lunch I began wandering down the mountain, attempting to follow my map (pictured above). I have to confess I did switch on the GPS on my phone at one point, just to make sure I was still heading in the right direction.
I seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, but soon spotted Pal Pal again.
Along the way I found some cherry blossom. It’s far too early for cherry blossom though, so I’m not sure what it was. Perhaps a different kind of cherry tree??
What a beautiful day! 😀
The full collection can be found on Flickr, as usual.
Edit: January 2012 – This post has been submitted for the J-Festa 2011 Special Edition as it was the most commented on post on Haikugirl’s Japan in 2011 (85 comments at the time of writing this). Thank you everyone for your kind comments!