Hello lovely readers!
As we come to the end of October, autumn colours are becoming more and more prominent in and around Aomori.
We took advantage of a sunny afternoon to see some of those colours around Seiryu-ji temple and Showa Daibutsu. It’s a short trip from the city centre but once you’re there it feels like the countryside.
Once you cross the bridge leading from the car park the ticket office is on your left. Our first stop after that was the temple itself, and the Omikuji! For those of you who don’t know, Omikuji are fortunes that you can get at most Japanese temples. There are places where you can tie them after you’ve read them – it’s said to strengthen your connection to the god of the temple, and besides, if you get a bad fortune you won’t want to take it home with you! Neither of us got very good fortunes (but they weren’t too bad either).
Inside the temple, there are beautiful golden statues and carvings. You have to take your shoes off to enter, which is worth bearing in mind – I hadn’t thought about it and the shoes I was wearing were not very easy to slip in and out of. There is a small bowl with cinders in it, where you can sprinkle a pinch of the incense provided. Don’t forget to bow!
There is also a beautiful view of the garden and the five-storey pagoda, which radiate peacefulness and serenity. It’s so relaxing that I was afraid to sit in one of the chairs provided in case I fell asleep!
After the temple, we started up the gently-sloped path towards the daibutsu, which is lined by trees. The eatery on the way has outdoor seating so we were able to enjoy the weather. Although we didn’t buy any food (it was just after lunch when we went), we did see that there was tea left out for visitors to enjoy free of charge, while watching the multitude of colourful pinwheels across the way. These pinwheels, and the nearby statues under a waterfall, are in memory of children who died before birth.
There is also a giant bell, which of course I rang! The reverberations continued until we were well on our way up the path again.
We finally reached the daibutsu itself, and it was stunning to behold. At 21.35 metres in height, it’s the tallest seated bronze daibutsu in Japan. I sat beside it to show you just how big it is.
I didn’t realise it until I got there, but you can actually go inside the statue. Shoes off, of course. Inside, we found plaques and paintings depicting some Buddhist teachings, more Buddhas (yes, Buddhas inside the Buddha), and a stairwell leading up to a small shrine to the dead
When we came back out, we went down the hill and found a pond in the shape of Shikoku, one of Japan’s islands. There are 88 temples all around Shikoku, and a tour of them all is supposed to help one’s spiritual journey. But seeing as that takes time, there are 88 footprint-shaped stepping stones around this Shikoku-shaped pond, with a little sand from each of the temples in each one. We made the circuit, and under the dappled light of the trees it did feel very serene.
The path brought us back around to the eatery, from where we headed back. The whole experience was a good insight into a more spiritual aspect of japan, and even if you don’t relate to Buddhism, it’s a stunningly beautiful place. And of course, it wouldn’t be japan if you couldn’t buy a good luck charm as a souvenir when you leave!
Until next time, thanks for reading!