I hiked part of this course last year and wanted to take Kris to see it this year. Last year we entered somewhere over by Hachimangu. But, I KNEW with my sense of direction and ability to remember what hiking course entrances look like, it was a super long shot that I would ever find that end of the trail. So, I took the easier route...If you are standing on the road, looking at the walkway leading to the entrance to Kotoku-in Temple, take the sidewalk that runs along the left side of the temple grounds. This will lead you along the road and eventually you will come to a tunnel with this stairway. There are a few signs that also direct you to the trail.
We ran into a few dozen people on the trail, but not enough to make it crazy. It was nice and peaceful the whole way around. The wind was blowing a bit, so we alternated between jackets and no jackets. The sun was shining bright, so I'm glad we were in the trees, since I forgot all about sunblock for our wintry-pale faces, necks and arms.
We used our hiking sticks for the first time today (thanks Aunt Tisha and Uncle Clayton!). Garytt kept saying, "This is so easy." I would ask, "What's easy?" He would reply, "Walking up these hard stairs with this hiking stick." :)
At the back of this little park is Kuzuharaoka Jinja. Founded in 1887, the spirit of Toshimoto Hino is worshipped here. It looks like he was involved in a plot to overthrow the Kamakura government in the 1330's. Word of the plan got out, he was caught, then tried for the crime, then was pardoned and sent back to Kyoto. Then, over the next seven years he trained with a group of priests, kind of like samurai, and he returned to over throw the government again. The plan was leaked again, he was caught again, tried again, but this time, he was beheaded. The beheading took place at Kuzuharaoka because this is where the Kamakura period's execution grounds were.
Admission is free. There wasn't much to see back here. The kids thought the turtles were amazing!
I read somewhere that these are like love stones...? Not sure about that. The two rocks have red string all over them with little 5 yen coins tied to them. Then, if you look behind the rocks you will see the heart shaped ema. Again...not sure what that's about.
A little farther up the path is another little building. It was hard to get a picture of this place because of all the people praying. As I was standing there waiting for an opening, I noticed the ema to the side were waving in the wind and making a beautiful sound. I actually pictured all the wishes people wrote on those boards being carried off by the wind. It was quite a peaceful moment.
Once walked back down the path to the torii, we found this little dish breaking spot. I gave each kid 100 Yen to purchase a plate (well, Mackenzie got two because her first dish didn't break).