We made it to about the halfway point around the forest and found a little cemetery, I think. The only thing I could get the translator to say that made any sense was Hojo. I'm guessing this is for the family that built the temple.
At the bottom of the path it opened into a beautiful field. There were ladies in the field either picking or planting. I'm not sure. We didn't walk too far before I said I didn't think this was the right way to the temple. It looked like there were houses at the end of the path. So, we turned around and headed back up "Bee Road" and took the other direction at the T...
When we made it onto the road leading to the field I pulled out the kids' sandwiches and we all ate lunch before walking to find the temple. Just around the corner was the second gate. I'm going to put these pictures in a different order from how I took them, simply because it gives a better picture of the grounds. What we actually did: we got to the second gate, looked down the long Sakura-lined street toward the first gate, decided the kids would think I was a crazy person if I asked them to walk all the way to that gate only to turn around and come back in the gate we were currently standing next to, so we just walked onto the main grounds; I could get the first gate picture as we were leaving. (all of these structures have been rebuilt since the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake)
When we entered the garden, we made a left turn to walk around clock-wise. Immediately we came to a tree covered spot with benches, so we took a seat and took in the peaceful garden. While we sat the kids had a small snack. A small snack that quickly attracted the attention of the neighborhood pigeons.
The birds were pretty brave. When Mackenzie dropped part of her rice cracker they came running and fought over that piece. We laughed and Garytt sat quite still to see how close the birds would get to him. Pretty close...however, we stopped laughing quickly as I heard the all-too-familiar swoosh of a hawk's wings just a couple feet over my head. The kids said, "Wow!" I said, "Uh, Mackenzie, I think they are after your snack." At which she responded by quickly throwing her whole pack of crackers on the ground, saying, "I'm NOT hungry ANYMORE", and taking off in the opposite direction. Garytt then said, "Nah, I think he wants to eat these pigeons," then he picked up the crackers and we all walked on down the path.
Just a few steps down the path we came to a small open grassy area. We pulled out our newly-purchased leisure sheet (a plastic picnic blanket - much better than a cloth blanket, the grass falls right off!). We took our shoes off (because this is Japan and that's what they do!). And we took a seat for a bit. Garytt laid back on his sheet and told me he needed to relax...it lasted not even two minutes! After they ran around a bit, rolled in the grass, and chased a few pigeons, I pulled out some paper and pencils so they could draw me a few pictures. While they drew pictures I took a little time to walk around and snap a few pictures.
Now that the sun was hiding and the wind was starting to whip around we bundled up and marched back to the train station. From the first gate we went to the road, made a right turn, walked to 16, across the road, and straight to the station. I did see a neat little shopping street by the station, but the kids said emphatically, NO!
Back on the train, I decided not to wait for the express since the local was only about 4 minutes longer and the local guaranteed us three seats. We hopped off at Shiori Station, walked to the Daiei Gate and we were home by 4. Looks like we were just in time too...