Oh man, was this month tough. Normally, by the middle of the month, I have a general idea of what picture I’m going to highlight on here. This month … well, looking back I feel quite spoiled. Or blessed. Blessed sounds so much better, doesn’t it?? 🙂 Two memorable trips – one to southern Wakayama Prefecture and one to Kyoto – left me with numerous shareworthy photos, not to mention my day-trip to southern Kumamoto prefecture. (If you’ve been following me on facebook, you’ll have seen my slew of foliage pictures. I can’t help. Leaf peeping is an addiction.)
So what image did I pick? None of them actually.
Drumroll please …
This is the three-story pagoda of Kiyomizu Temple. No, not THAT Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto. This one hides in the mountains of southern Fukuoka prefecture, just off the Kyushu Expressway (Miyama exit). I had heard rumors that this was a good spot for autumn leaves here in Kyushu so two friends and I went exploring one weekday morning and weren’t disappointed.
The temple itself was of nominal interest. Apparently, the spot was chosen by a pheasant who led the founding priest here, hence the rather large carved pheasant statue outside the main hall. (It’s actually a kijiguruma, which literally means a “pheasant car” and is usually represented as a carved bird with wheels.)
But what really made the visit worthwhile was what we discovered hidden away in the lower precincts of the temple, at the foot of the mountain. Not knowing what we’d find, we paid the ¥300 entry donation to the temple building and were led into the next room, where a veranda off the back of the building allowed us to relish in this view:
That’s right, bonus pic! 🙂
It’s one of the prettiest gardens I have seen outside of Kyoto and Kanazawa and it’s hidden away in a little visited temple just up the road (well, in American terms of distance … 😛 ) from my home. Designed by famous painter Sesshu about 500 years ago, it mixes carefully tended moss, rocks and waterfalls with the borrowed scenery of the maples and mountain peak beyond. I could have sat there for hours, just watching the light play on the leaves. Such an unexpected gem in the middle of nowhere. Just one of the reasons I love Japan – there is always something to discover.