Day 36 – The Road To Enlightenment – Walking The Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage – Kannonsho-ji Temple #32 In Shiga, Japan
Day 36 – The Road To Enlightenment – Walking The Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage –
Kannonsho-ji Temple #32 In Shiga, Japan
Today we had an enjoyable and full day.
We planned to visit Kannonsho-ji, Temple #32, and complete our walk north towards Hikone.
We knew that there would not be restaurants or cafes along our walking route, so we brought with us some food, hot tea and snacks.
The road to the temple was very steep and beautiful.
It was a private road that ended at the parking lot of the temple.
We planned to climb up to the temple along the shorter but steeper road, and to walk down the mountain on the other side, on the longer road.
There are toll booths on both sides, charging cars a fee to park at the top.
The couple who manned the toll booth waved us in.
I asked them if we could climb up to the temple from there, and they gave me a map and said yes.
At the top, right by the parking lot, there is a set of 500 stone steps that leads to the temple through a thick forest.
The temple’s gate was just two massive bronze Nio guardians, with no wooden structures to house them in.
According to legend, Kannonsho-ji was founded when a merman, emerging out of the depths of Lake Biwa, asked a young nobleman to build a temple to worship Kannon, the goddess of mercy.
In the temple’s main hall sits an enormous Kannon, carved from 23 tonnes of Indian sandalwood.
It took 10 years to carve it.
The huge Sandalwood Kannon has warm reddish golden tones and a warm and inviting smile.
It seemed to be smiling at us with compassion as we chanted and prayed in front of it.
Kannonsho-ji Temple is located near the top of Mt. Kinugasa, on the eastern side of Lake Biwa.
The Temple overlooks the lake, and the whole valley below it.
The surrounding forested mountain is full of big, imposing rocks and boulders.
It has a few beautiful buildings and a beautiful seated bronze Buddha outside.
The most beautiful feature of the temple grounds is a very tall, massive rock garden, with boulders piled high on top of one another, all the way up the hill.
It has a pond in the front and two big Kannon bronze statues standing on the rocks.
According to temple records, Kannonsho-ji Temple was founded by Prince Shotoku (574-622) who founded other temples of the Saigoku.
Then, in the Kamakura (1192-1333) and Muromachi (1336-1573) periods, it thrived under the protection of the Rokkaku clan and gained power and influence.
During these periods, there were as many as 33 temple buildings on this mountain.
In the later periods, the temple was involved in wars and relocated to another place.
However, in 1597, it was moved back to its original location.
Today the temple is visited by worshippers who come here to pray for good relationships in their lives.
Kannonsho-ji, is a Nansho, a temple that is hard to reach, because there is a steep uphill road on both sides, and a long set of steps on one side.
In the wintertime, the narrow mountain road is slippery and often icy.
The temple has a hall dedicated to the Saigoku 33 temple pilgrimage, with all the different Kannon deities’ manifestations and a collection of all the seals and stamps.
After getting our book and scroll stamped and offering our chants and prayers, we took a tea break before starting our walk down the mountain.
It was a very cold and windy day, and we were happy that we had layered our clothing and even worn our tights under our pants.
We had climbed up to the temple on the protected side of the mountain and it was so steep, that we stopped to take off our fleeces on the way up.
Coming down the mountain, we were on the unprotected side, and the strong wind made the air feel cold and very blustery.
We returned to the hotel by early evening, and had a dinner of risotto and pizza in the hotel’s excellent Italian restaurant.
Normally, the hotel has five restaurants that are open, but they were all closed and only the Italian restaurant remained open.
Still, there were other guests dining, and the hot springs were open and very soothing to my soul.
Today we visited a temple that is known to grant blessings for a good relationship, yet at night I had a nightmare that Jules and I were arguing a lot.
I woke up feeling puzzled.
We almost never argue in this way….
Perhaps I was purging my anxieties over the obstacles that we are encountering on this pilgrimage, or maybe I was projecting on our relationship, my broken relationships of the past….
With love and heartfelt tenderness,
Steps walked – 25,548
19 km. walked
Active walking time – 4.5 hours
Total walking time today – 6 hours.
Total walking distance on the Saigoku to date – 680.5 km
Kannonsho-ji, Temple #32 in Shiga