Day 24 – The Chūgoku 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage, Japan – Visiting Temple #17, Ryuzoji Temple In Yamaguchi, and a Very Rainy Day of Walking from Yuda Onsen Towards Ube

Day 24 – The Chūgoku 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage, Japan – Visiting Temple #17, Ryuzoji Temple In Yamaguchi, and a Very Rainy Day of Walking from Yuda Onsen Towards Ube

Breakfast in our hotel was a bit depressing.
The dining room reminded me of a cheap wedding hall, with huge round tables covered in green ruffled tablecloths, an old carpet full of stains, dirty walls and room to host many hundreds of people.

The food at the buffet was good, though.
I chose a selection of pickled vegetables, a green Kawara soba (a traditional dish of soba noodles served on a hot roof tile), a home made tofu with grated daikon, ginger and soy sauce, a small amount of rice gruel topped with roasted sesame seeds and seaweed, a miso soup and some fruit.

After breakfast, we visited the temple which is located on the northwestern slopes of the city, in a village called Ogorikamigo.

The stone steps leading to the temple were slippery from the constant rain.
We were the first visitors of the day, and a lady apologized for charging us two dollars each to enter the temple.

The rocky mountain above the temple is filled with sculptures, and if the day were nicer, I would highly recommend leaving some time to hike it.
For us, since it was a very rainy day, we had planned to visit the temple, but then to walk ahead towards the town of Ube, which is our next destination.

Since the weather forecast was calling for three days of rain, we decided to walk ahead and cover the distance to Ube without our backpacks, which we can leave in our hotel in Yuda Onsen.

The distance between Yuda Onsen and Ube is forty kilometers.
We can easily cover it in the two days we will be staying in Yamaguchi.

The temple is truly beautiful, and in no time I forgot the hardships of the road, and took in the serenity of this forest temple.

The sound of the waterfalls coming from the mountain was very soothing.
The huge trees were covered in moss, and everywhere there was water.

This temple is the oldest in Yamaguchi City.
It is more than 1270 years old.

This mountain was a sacred area, and it was known for the monks who lived here in caves, and did Goma offerings.

A Goma offering is an old ritual in which people wrote their wishes on a thin piece of wood, which was then burnt by the monks in a ceremony.
It is believed that by burning the goma you will be cleansed of your earthly desires, and that your life will be directed towards truth.

In the year 741, a basic foundation for the temple was established in this sacred area, and a thousand handed Kannon was enshrined here.
The temple was named “Ryuzoji.”

We walked under the main hall, to see the treasure room with artifacts that are hundreds of years old.
Then we walked up the stairs to see the huge Fudomyoo, holding a sword in one hand, guarding the Truth and standing by the stunning waterfalls.

A thousand year old Great Ginkgo tree stands on the grounds.
It is over 50 meters tall (150 feet), and it seems to reach the sky with its leafy branches.
A wet carpet of fallen golden leaves spreads below it.

The grounds are dotted with protective guardians and by the revered statues of the Buddha and Kannon, the Goddess of Pure Land Buddhism.

There was also a garden with an amazing collection of native Asian peonies in full bloom, some bigger than a human’s head!
The colors of the blooms were also amazing, ranging from a deep burgundy red to many shades of pinks, yellows and whites.
Some of the plants had little umbrellas over them, to protect the delicate flowers from the rain.

After stamping our book and scroll, we were treated to a salty sour Umebushi tea, and we walked down towards the city in the pouring rain.

The walk was made difficult by the wind, the cold and the rain, all of which were relentless throughout the day.

We did have sidewalks by the main road, and when we could, we walked on smaller streets, by houses along the canals.
Nobody was walking or cycling or working in their gardens.

In fact, twice people stopped to ask if we were OK, or if we needed any help.
After all, we were away from any of the tourist attractions, and they must have assumed that nobody would choose to walk in this rain, unless they were stranded and had no options.

About midway, we stopped at a small, neighborhood French restaurant.
The restaurant was full, but the smell of good food, and dining in a small family owned restaurant, were too good to pass up.
We sat and waited for thirty minutes for a table, meantime deciphering the menu, written all in Japanese.

Enchanté turned out to be a lovely little French restaurant, serving excellent Italian food.
Beside enjoying a rest from the cold, wind and walking in the rain, we each had a salad, a very good pasta, a small dessert and tea.

We finally reached Fukamizu station, the midpoint between Yamaguchi and Ube.
We took the train back to Yuda Onsen, and we plan to continue walking from that same station tomorrow, towards Ube.

We returned to our hotel to put away the scroll and our pilgrimage book, and went to the Starbucks to sit and rest.
Nearby there was an outdoor beer festival which yesterday was full of people.
Tonight, in the pouring rain, it was empty.

Later, in our hotel, I soaked in the outdoor hot spring pool on the rooftop.
The rain was still pelting down, but in the hot waters I felt refreshed.

It was a cold, wet, tiring day, but we have good memories of the temple we visited, and the fabulous lunch we had.

With love and endless blessings,

Daily Stats:
Steps: 31,989 steps
Distance Walked: 24 Kilometers
Active Walking: 5.5 hours
Total Time: 7.5 hours

Total distance walked on the pilgrimage so far: 498 Kilometers

Temple Visited: Temple #17 Ryuzoji Temple 龍蔵寺 In Yamaguchi

Accommodation: Hotel New Tanaka in Yuda Onsen, Yamaguchi
A big hotel with a small hot springs, a bit run down.
Not recommended.

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