We were on our way by 0715. After a quick drive to TokyoWan Ferry, we finally figured out which way to go in order to line up for embarkation. It wasn't totally obvious (at least not to those of us who can't read kanji) which way we were supposed to go. Luckily, we spied the guy with the orange baton and followed the direction he waved us. Once parked in the super skinny lane, Kris and Clayton made their way inside the ticket office to purchase tickets. I can't find the tickets from this day, but I think it was about 7,000 yen for our van and the driver. Then, all other people were about 1400 per adult and about 700 per child ~ these are round trip prices.
It's a fairly large lot for parking.
As we wound our way through the paths...and there are many....we found the 1500 arhat statues. I could have hung out and taken pictures all day long! We walked all morning and still didn't make it onto all of the paths around the mountain.
There were praying statues, starved statues, angry statues, sad statues...so many different faces to see! Seated, standing, laying down. There were many statues missing their heads or arms. Several statues had rocks laid on the shoulders because the head was missing. There were statues tucked away in caves or in corners or up in a little dug out area of rock.
This guy was at the entrance to a small tunnel...he's letting us know to watch our heads, low ceiling!
There is a little hut here where you can buy small souvenirs. You can also get your shuinchuo stamped here for a couple hundred yen.
Once we were done picture-ing and walking around this area, we realized we had to climb back up all of those stairs we just climbed down. What?! So, instead of having the kids slowly make their way back over the mountain to our car, Clayton and I ran back up the several hundred stairs to the car and drove it down to the lower level parking area to pick everyone up. From there, Kris drove us down the mountain to this little area below where we pulled out the cooler and ate our lunches.
Map of the temple grounds. We drove up on the Mountain Driveway (toll road) - "driveway entrance" on the left side of the map. We parked at the little hut at the top of that road. From that hut we took the path to the right, to the "hundred shaku Kwan-non". Then, we continued on the path up to "Ruriko Observatory". From there we wound our way down through the 1500 Arhat and then to the Daibutsu of Nihon-ji. Then, Clayton and I ran (huff, puff, gasp, wow---my legs!) back up that mountain (what was it? 800 steps?) to the car and I drove back down the driveway to the smaller hut (about halfway down the toll road), where Kris took the driver's seat and drove us around to the "Free Parking" on the right side of the map. This is where we ate lunch while Tisha and I explored the temple grounds.
Okay...here she is...the Tokyo Wan Kannon. This 56 meter tall Goddess of Mercy is the tallest freestanding buddhist statue in the world. It was built in 1961 as a symbol of peace after the war. You can pay an entrance fee (500 yen for adults and 300 yen for kids) and then walk up the inside of the statue. There are 324 steps to the top. Along the way you will see several art pieces made by the same guy who designed this statue and you are also able to see all of the shichifukujin statues (7 lucky gods). Once at the top you can walk out onto her arm or across the top of her head.
When we arrived around 1400, there were only a few other people there. As we got out of the car (free parking) it started to sprinkle on us a bit, so we made our way quickly to the office at the base of the statue so we could make our way up the statue. When we got to the window of the office we asked for four adult tickets and two child tickets as well as a stamp for my book. What we got: six free tickets, four sets of chopsticks, a free book stamp, coloring pages for the kids, and our pamphlets. The ladies behind the counter were so excited that my kids were talking to them! We thanked them over and over again, then made our way on inside.
|Our goods and my stamp|
There was some sort of Mikoshi parade going on. The guy in white up on the pedastal was blowing a whistle as the people struggling with the Mikoshi were chanting and moving the thing forward. Then, the whistle blower would stop whistling, wave his hands in the air, and make them back up and try again. They did this over and over while we were there. We decided not to wait all day watching this, so we started to head back to the car. As we turned around the three men that were standing there watching the festivities smiled at Mackenzie and gave her a bag of goodies. They said she was cute, "kawaii", and waved at her. :)
fter about an hour of driving through quaint little towns and many many rice fields, we made it to Oyama Senmaida - voted one of the top rice paddies in Japan, and the closest one to Tokyo.