There are many small pleasures in life, and one particular luxury for me is owning my own car. No rental cars or expensive car shares – just spontaneous road trips at the drop of a hat. One quiet Sunday morning, that’s exactly what we did.
After a brief conversation with a barista about local activities in the area, he recommended that we visit Futago-ji (両子寺), a Buddist temple just north of us, in the heart of the Kunisaki Peninsula. On a whim, we follow his suggestion and take the 60 minute drive out to the most pretty, quintessentially southern Japanese landscape we’ve seen yet.
Upon arrival, we pay our 300 yen entrance fee and briefly look at two beautifully constructed buildings, before moving into a forested area towards the temple.
We find Futago-ji, and are surprised to find that it is build into the rock face behind it. From the side, there’s a small entrance into the back wall, where dimly lit lights guide the way.
The temple itself is a modest but elegant building, paired with the beautiful red railings and matching coiled bell rope. No pictures allowed in the interior of the temple itself. There are several golden Buddhas within casting shadows by the slender lit candles.
At this point, I’m certain there is more to explore around the temple. However, we are sidetracked by a path that seems to be heading somewhere up ahead, and so we follow.
The path keeps going up…
I don’t really know what possessed us to climb all the way. I guess at a certain point, it would have felt meaningless to have turned back. My lungs felt shallow – perhaps the elevation, maybe the lack of proper exercise for the last 2 months… Let’s go with elevation, shall we?
Finally, after over an hour and a half of walking, we see a tower up ahead. We hope this is a signal that we are at the end of the path.
I swear we both have the Rocky soundtrack in our heads.
The walk back down is significantly easier, though I think I’ll be feeling the exercise in my legs tomorrow. Our walk has lead us astray from the rest of the temple grounds, so we will have to return again when we have the energy. Back at the entrance of the complex, we go to a vending machine and down two Aquarius (sports drinks) before heading back home. Driving back, we notice the towers on the top of the mountain that we just hiked up.