Thursday, March 27, 2008
Mt. Minobu
Mt. Minobu is a famous mountain and temple located in southern Yamanashi. It's 1,153 meters high and houses the Kuno-ji Temple which is the headquarters of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism. The temple is massive and well known for the 287 stone steps you have to climb in order to get to it. Apparently the JETs who came the year before I did had to climb to the temple in their business suits! While I'm glad I didn't have to do that, I have always wanted to see the temple, so I decided it would be a nice day trip to take with Heather.

We left after I got done with my morning classes and took the train about 2 hours to the Minobu Station. Because I had to work that morning, we arrived sort of late and the temple isn't all that close to the station. We started down the map at the station and decided to try and walk our way their after the train station people proved to be unhelpful with provided transport information. However, after walking only a little ways from the station, a lady who had overheard our conversation with the train station people ran over and told us which bus we could take and when the last bus back would be. Thank goodness for helpful, English speaking, Japanese people because it would have taken us at least an hour or so to walk all the way there.

At the front gate to the temple we stopped to take a few pictures and then got a good look at the staircase. In your head, 280 some steps might not seem like all that much, but when the stone steps are about twice the size of a normal step, it's a little more difficult. Still, the climb wasn't much of a problem, though I do see how climbing in a business suit might be a pain.

Once we finally made it to the top, we took a moment to do a victory pose and started looking around. The temple complex was huge compared to any of the other temples I had been too. There were several buildings and you could actually go inside and walk around! While walking around, we also ran into a bunch of monks, which was kind of cool. One must have just come back from the store as he had a bag full of groceries. They only downside to the whole thing was that at one point we got yelled at for taking pictures. I guess you’re not supposed to take them while you’re in the temple. Now we know.

Outside the temple happens to be just as beautiful as the inside. Especially at this time of year as the temple has some really nice cherry blossoms. The temple was even selling cherry blossoms that you could plant in your yard! Seeing as how I don't have a yard, I opted for some cherry blossom themed sweets which turned out to be absolutely delicious. I'll probably go back next year just to pick up more of the sweets!

After exploring the temple grounds, we considered going to the summit of Mt. Minobu itself, but we missed the last pull cable car to the top. We could have hiked it, but would have had to hike back down in the dark which neither of us were thrilled at the prospect of. So we took the bus back to the Minobu station and took a little walk around the town to check out some of the cherry blossoms we'd seen on the bus ride over. The town is small, but really quaint and has way more cherry trees than any town near me. After our tree viewing, we hit up a local restaurant for some hoto, which is a bit different that the hoto in my area, but is still just as good.

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