This 22-kilometer course took me through the Midori-no Bunkoen Park, in the hills overlooking Shijonawate, then on through to the eastern base of Ikomayama, to Hozan-ji. From where I ascended the mountain, then dropped-down the other side and skirted-around the western side, before emerging at Ishikiri (mapped course).
This quaint collection of Jizo I passed a few-hundred meters into my hike as I approached the Torii, that was the entrance to Shijonawate-jinja.
A waterfall, along with the sounds of Nature. What better combination. To add to the delight - a small Jizo and vases of flowers at the base.
I nearly missed this set, concealed within the rocks.
And this collection was nearby. This is an interesting complex, to say the least.
Hozan-ji, a "must see" if you are in the area. And don't be in a hurry. There are many buildings to see and just as many Buddhist Icons to check-out. The above three images are just a selection of what is on display.
Jikou-ji, an ideal location to break for a bite-to-eat. This complex is so isolated and serene, and quaint, with the forest canopy all over, one just can't help but love this site.
Kouhou-ji, with it's 1,300-year old history, is the last of the complexes on this outing. But not the last of the icons. On the day I visited this complex is was snowing. All adding to the atmosphere of the site.
The final two-kilometers of my day was via the Zushidani Path, which was created during the time Kouhou-ji was established. The path itself is part of a pilgrimage that eventually scaled the summit of Ikomayama and descended into Hozan-ji. This stretch of path is littered with Icons, of one sort or another, and, as you will see in this video, there is some quite specactular scenery along the way.
This is a 45km plus hiking course that takes the walker through a variety of scenery. Commencing at an industrial estate, on the outskirts of Hirakata City, the course makes it's way through three recreational parks, several rural settlements, many hill-climbs & descents, and, lets not forget, temples & shrines, before finishing at the town of Sango, in Nara Prefecture.
These first two images were taken at the Iwafune-jinja Shrine, on the outskirts of Katano City, Osaka Prefecture. I highly recommend you visit this complex, and, while there, check-out some of the hiking tracks in the vicinity.
The ever-present roadside Jizo. No matter wherever you are - rural, city, town, mountain, - and how isolated you are, you are bound to come-across one of these.
If it hadn't been for the sound of the waterfall, I would have missed these guys. I had to clamber-down from the track to take these images.
I am now on the second segment of this course (Shijonawate to Sango) and, almost immediately, my first roadside icon. I'm actually surprised it is still intact, as there is a quarry just up the road, and many heavy trucks pass by here. Unlike the first segment (Tsuda to Shijonawate), where it was fine and warm, on this day there was plenty of snow about . . . .
. . . . as can be seen in the above slideshow. If you hover your cursor over the image, click on the arrow to commence the slideshow.
In the above image I am on my descent from the plateau, where I had spent the previous 4-hours hiking, towards my goal of Sango Town. I stopped here to admire the rural scenery and, as I turned to leave, I spotted this collection of Jizo.
The icon on the right, looks similar to one of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune, maybe it is Fukurokuju, the God of wisdom and longevity.
The above slideshow are images from Chogosonshi-ji Temple, at the end of my course.
Full course details, via my "Ride with G.P.S.".
When it comes to art, I couldn't tell you the difference between a Constable and a Monet. Nor could I tell you the difference between Pottery and Ceramics. But what I do know, is that I appreciate the work & energy that goes in to creating these works of art, regardless of the medium they have been created onto.
So, when I am out hiking or on my bike, and I happen-across a carving, as in the image on the left, I can't help but feel amazed as to how someone can take an image, consign it to memory, then, at a later stage, reproduce it onto a medium - in this instance, onto a rock.
So, without further ado, let me introduce you to some of the many religious icons on view throughout Japan.
I shall commence with the Sekibutsu. In the image above is the Warai (which translates in Japanese to happy/laughing/smiling), and is an image of Buddha, sitting in the Lotus Position.
Next is the Magaibutsu. In the image above I am standing next to the Daimonnohotokedani, one of the largest of it's kind in the Kansai region, constructed during the Nara/Heian Period (794-to-1300). This is a magnificent carving and stands over 5-meters high.
Now let me introduce you to my favorite - the Jizo. These guys are the most beloved of all the Japanese divinities, and can be found in some of the most isolated of places. In the above image I happened-across this set while out on my mountain bike in the forest.
This spectacular carving is a Butsuzou and is located near the summit of Mt Kasagiyama, in the village of Kasagi in Kyoto prefecture. Believed to have been carved by Genpou Daishi, during the Gennin Period (1224-to-1225), the statue is so tall, it is difficult to capture in it's entirety, for fear of falling over the cliff.
Then there are the unusual ones. In this image I am kneeling in front of a Sekibutsu Pagoda, just outside the town of Wazuka in Kyoto Prefecture. This is a monument in remembrance of the "Great Yamashiro Flood" of 1953. During the clean-up, many stone carvings were gathered and placed together to create this monument.
In the above images, are icons I discovered while hiking into Nara, via the "Old Yagyu Road". But, as you can see in this video, I was overjoyed when I found the "Hozan Sekibutsu", a three-sided figure carved out of a rock and located deep in the forest.
One more image before I sign-off. I am standing beside a Rokujizo Sekibutsu. Although it is difficult to see, but there are six (roku in Japanese) Jizo carvings in this rock. But, what amazes me, is the isolated location - deep in a forest, about 500-meters from the nearest lane, the nearest settlement (Nodono) about 1-kilometer away.
As always, it has been a great pleasure sharing my experiences with you, and I thank you for taking the time to view my posts. So, until next time . . . .
One of the many things I like about the great outdoors, are the little surprises I stumble-across. In this case, religious icons.