Thursday, March 26, 2015

Shomyoji Temple, Gardens, and Hiking Trail (Yokohama)

Once a month I let Garytt have a "skip day" from karate.  Today was that day...and, what a perfect day....sunny and 13C!!  

We ended up getting a later than anticipated start due to Kenz wanting to finish more Language pages than planned (learning cursive is quite an incentive to get her workbook done quickly).  So, around 1100, Kris picked us up and drove us to Womble Gate.  From here, we walked to Yokosuka Chuo and made the ten minute ride to Kanazawa Bunko Station.  From the East Exit we walked to 16, across the road, and then towards what I hoped was the entrance.  

From the train station, we walked to the thick yellow line (16), walked left toward the Koban (police badge icon) and made a right.  From there, we walked to the purple dot.  There are stairs here that lead to the beginning of the trail.  

The stairs look like they just lead up to a little cemetery, which is to the right of this picture, up the stairs.  At the top of the stairs and to the left is the entrance to the trail.

After walking through the trees for a few minutes, we came to a little hill with a map of our excursion today.  I had to assure Boy that it was a 'little hike'....

Boy:  I hope we're not going on a long hike today.
Me:  We are going on a little hike today.
Boy:  What?!
Me:  We are going on a li...
Boy:  Mom, Mom, Mom...I didn't mean that kind of "what".  I meant "what" like you say when you're excited.  Like, WHAT!!

We started on the left of the map (You are here rectangle) and hiked all the way around the entire edge of the park and ended at the pond and temple.

Lots of stairs today.  So, it was a short hike, but it had some ups and downs.

It's not too often that I get beautiful blue skies in my pictures!

The explanation for this little building was in Japanese and my translator spit out some weird nonsense.  

Looking out toward Hakkeijima.  

The kids were quite excited to find a bridge to cross.  There wasn't much to see from it though.  Just weeds and bare trees.

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 this spot on the trail we had two options at a T intersection.  There was no map here and I wasn't sure if one of the paths lead back out to the road or if it kept going around the forest.  We decided to head down the stairs.  The kids called this "Bee Road" because of all the little bees flying around on the ground.  

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...

...up more and more stairs!

At the bottom of the stairs Mackenzie said (with a little bit of an attitude, I might add), "Mooommmmyyyy....this is where we just were and YOU said it was WRONG!"  You'd think she'd be a little less surprised at how easily I can take the wrong direction.  By the time we made it to this point there were a few women with their children in the field.  The kids ran around squealing as the mothers giggled at them.  

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)

Red Gate 

The official name is Kintakusan Shomyoji and was build around 1267 as the Kanesawa Hojo clan's family temple.  From the temple literature:  "It is said that the temple began with an Amitabha hall built by Hojo Sanetoki, a senior vassal of Kamakura Shogunate, in the grounds of his residence.  It was originally a temple for prayer but later converted to that of Shingon Risshu sect."  Apparently, this family loved books.  They collected and saved many books through the generations and housed them in the library that is next to the temple.  (250 Yen entry fee)

Niomon is the large gate just before you get to the pond.  It houses two Ni-o, who protect the sacred grounds.  These two warriors have survived since 1267!

The guy on the left has his mouth closed.  The guy on the right has his mouth open.

I'm not sure why, but this temple gate is blocked off.  No one can walk through it, you have to walk to the left of the gate to enter the grounds.  There is netting all around that I think about it, maybe this is because it's just too hard to keep all the birds from making this gate home.  We saw a LOT of birds around the pond.

Next we come to Jodo Teien, Pure Land Garden, designed to represent Buddhist Pure Land in the real world.

We were lucky to have a few periods without any wind, which allowed for a few reflection shots.  

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 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.

Dunno who this guy is, maybe the guy who designed the garden?  

The little mound by the trees is a cemetery for the descendants.  We didn't go all the way back there.  The wind was starting to pick up and get a little chilly, so we packed back up and made our way around the rest of the grounds.

There was a blocked off tunnel at the back of the garden.  From the sign posted next to it, this is believed to be where the ancient library was located.   As I was taking pictures, the kids decided to head over to the bridges and take a look around.  It was so awesome of those two for behaving as quietly as they did, so they could walk around the place and look at what they wanted to see while I wandered around and looked at what I wanted to see and we didn't have to be right next to each other to do it!  
Kondoh, the main hall, houses a statue of Miroku Bosatsu, which no one can see.  It has only been on display a few times in hundreds of years.  There is a replica in the library.

The temple bell, first donated by Hojo Sanatoki in 1269.  Hojo Akitoki had it recast in 1301.

Shakado.  The roof on this hall is beautifully gentle.  I wish the blue sky hadn't disappeared by the time I made it over here so the building could have been a little more highlighted.  

Next, I turned toward the bridges in search of my children.  I found them counting creatures and drawing pictures.

First, I walked onto the flat bridge, which lead to a small island and then the second, arched bridge.  On the Yokohama Kanazawa City Guide Association's site they say that the arched bridge represents the difficulties in the past (it takes extra effort walking up the arch); the island, Nakanoshima, represents present time; the flat bridge represents the future, after enlightenment.  (I guess we walked the wrong way around the garden)

A view from the bridges of the grassy area we just left.

The kids were so excited to see so many turtles and fish.  The crane was a bonus!  

Looking back toward the second gate, also, looking back in time, I guess.

I sure wish the Sakura were in bloom...of course, we may not have had a nearly empty garden experience if they were.  

A few buds were starting to bloom.

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...