Japan Trip 2023 – Day Eight

May 11th

Ryokan owners were away this morning, so no breakfasts were being made.

Handed the key in to their son and set out for the train station on foot, having consumed one of the tofu bars bought yesterday.

An hour’s walk that only became problematic when I decided to check my progress with Google maps. Having been lead around the block, I went back to instinct and had no further problems.

Now on the train for Kofu.

Should be the easiest travel day of the trip.

And indeed, so far, it was.

Am now sitting in my hotel room with a cold beer watching dark clouds brewing over the mountains. Am hoping for thunderstorms.

On arrival at Kofu, I stored my luggage in a locker at the station and headed to Maizurujo Park, only a few minutes away.

Maizurujo Park

This is what remains of the Takeda castle; much is just small reconstructions, but some of it is the original sixteenth century stonework. Was occasionally harassed by Japanese school boys yelling “Hah row!”, because they were, “crazy Japanese boy”.

Maizurujo Park

Maizurujo Park

Maizurujo Park

As I had taken an earlier than planned train, I decided to visit the Kaizenkoji temple today instead of tomorrow. This temple was built by Takeda Shingen. Locked my hat with the luggage, so I may be a little burnt.

Visiting this place was always an, “if I have time”, option, but, in retrospect, it should have been an essential. The web reviews ignore much of its more interesting aspects.

They have not tried to hide its age, which is aesthetically pleasing.

Inside there is a dragon echo ceiling. Two dragons are painted on the ceiling, and they say, if you stand under their facing heads and clap, they will roar back in return.

Dubious about all things Buddhists say to me, I nevertheless duly stood and clapped. I did this numerous times, because the responding growl from the ceiling was fantastic!

It truly was magical.

To the side of this main hall is a corridor leading to the back of the building, where you descend into a darkened passageway built in the shape of the kanji, kokoro. It is pitch dark and you have to feel your way through, back to the light, as a form of metaphorical spiritual rebirth.

When I descended, the passage was full of screaming school children, clearly a representation of one of the Buddhist hells.

They soon exited, none even noticing me in the narrow, but lightless passageway.

I then continued on in silence to be reborn back into the temple.

Lightening from the thunderstorm in the distance as I write this.

As I am leaving the temple on of the attendants takes me aside pointing to a nearby building, saying much in Japanese that I could not understand. All I really got was, “second floor”. So I thanked them and went to the second floor of that building.

It was a small museum. Some interesting artefacts, very nice wooden statues, but also scrolls and letters from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with calligraphy that was sublime; far exceeding anything I saw in the Narita calligraphy museum.

Temple grounds

Temple grounds

Sunburnt and tired, I indulged in a taxi back to the station.

Collect the luggage, some beer, some kombini natto sushi, and a fifteen minute walk to the hotel, where I am now watching bad samurai television inside and a thunderstorm outside.

Tiny hotel room

Thunderstorm was a no show.

English language Miss Marple movie on television to distract me instead.

Missing Tanwyn, particularly after today’s temple visit.

Sunset from the hotel window

Kai Cho

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