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January 28, 2017 - Templing in Kunisaki Hanto
After a good soak in an onsen at the aptly named Yamaga Onsen, I decided to spend my second full day in Oita driving to many of the different rural temples on the Kunisaki Peninsula. If there were two things I would use to describe today, it would be windy roads and plenty of stairs.
For today, I visited the following temples in order
(1) Futago-ji Temple (visited yesterday)
(3) Makiodo Temple
(5) Choan-ji Temple
(6) Monjunsen-ji Temple
Do note that some of the temples are easy to get to, but some are along very windy and narrow roads which would be extremely dangerous in snowy or very wet weather. Do to the elevation, Choan-ji and Futago-ji temple may have snow if there has been a large amount of snow on Honshu.
My first temple visited was Futagoji which is located close to the peak of Mt Futago. It costs 300 yen to enter and includes an impressive main hall and stone staircase to one of the sub temples.
The upper hall at Futagoji temple. It should be noted that the remnants of Shinto and Buddhist worship seem to be more present on the Kunisaki Peninsula compared to the rest of the country when both were separated under law during the Meiji Restoration.
My second stop was Magaibutsu (Tennoji Temple) which is known for two large carvings of Buddhas into the cliff face. Replicas of these carvings can also be seen at the Oita Prefectural History Museum in Usa.
Magaibutsu costs 300 yen to enter and it takes around 15 minutes to get to the top. It's around a 300 meter walk from memory.
My third temple of the day was Maki Odo, which also costs 300 yen to enter. Even though the grounds of this temple is small, there are 9 highly impressive statues which date back to the Heian and Kamakura Period. You are given an english pamphlet when you enter the temple.
To the side of the main treasure hall is a garden that is home to a large number of stone sculptures, some which are quite impressive. It's worth having a look at most people just visit the treasure house and move on.
Fukuji temple is home to the oldest wooden building on Kyushu, which is one of the reasons this building and the statue of Amitabha are designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan. It costs 300 yen to enter but is home to many tour groups.
When I first visited, there was around 4 or 5 people in the whole grounds so it was quite relaxing. Then, two full tour buses came and visited the temple so it was quite busy, but let's just say that a Japanese bus load of tourists are about a noisy as a car load of Chinese tourists (the less I say about this the better!).
My second last temple for the day was Choan-ji Temple which is located up a very windy road, so you won't get anything larger than a minibus up here! It costs 300 yen to enter and is famous for some masks used in the traditional fire festivals that takes place in Kunisaki Hanto.
My last temple of the day was Monjunsen-ji Temple which was free to enter and includes one of the more prettier stone staircases. The main hall is also built into the cliff which is quite a nice touch.
I really enjoyed my time on the Kunisaki Peninsula, and I'm happy that Uji stated that this was one of his favorite places in Japan (from memory). The temples themselves are nice but the scenery along the way is often breathtaking. Do note that a hire car is a must up here, or a bus tour is also possible. Do note that Japanese tour groups do move quickly, as they stated at Fukuji temple for around 5 minutes. My next post will be from Hiji Castle town which I visited later in the day.
Bungotakeda Tourist Information: http://www.showanomachi.com/en/ (English)
Official Oita Website: http://en.visit-oita.jp/spots/detail/4796/ (English)