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石山寺 Ishiyama-dera – May 19th, 2012

The last destination for our one-day trip in Hikone is Ishiyama-dera (Wiki). We arrived nearby at around 3pm and we were arranged to return to Kyoto at 5pm.

The entrance to Ishiyama-dera was quite interesting. I didn’t take any photos for details, but if you look carefully at the photo above, there was some statues on both sides of the gate and a giant Oni statue on the right side. Kind of creepy actually.

Before we head inside though, in the photo on the right is a statue nearby the Ishiyama-dera. The statue has something to do with Joumons, the ancestral native inhabitants of Japan. Behind the statue were some shops, and some classmates bought snacks there.

Alright, now let’s head into the the temple grounds. I really like this pathway. I was told that this temple is a great place to visit during Autumn because the trees turn into all sorts of different colors. That must be a treat to the eyes, but green is a wonderful color too.

Here in this photo is a series of holes, alcoves and a short tunnel that you can walk through. The photo captures both the entrance on the right side and the exit on the left side. The tunnel was only about 20 feet long or so. Don’t fall into the water when you come out.

On the left, a long flight of stairs and somewhere at the top as photographed on the right, you can see my classmates gathering around our new tour guide in the purple jacket as she explained something. She did not speak English and her Japanese was mercilessly fast.

From what I gathered, a god is supposed to be residing in that little house? Having a truck parked next to it kind of ruins the image.

A tree with a thick rope tied around it. I believe that it is supposed to wart off evil.

The name Ishiyama-dera literally means “rock mountain temple”, and so I thought that the vista above was quite representative of its name.

Looking a bit to the right.

And looking a bit to the left, where some classmates were standing about.

In the photo on the left, our tour guide talked about the dozen of so statues inside the house. Before moving on, we have some time to wander around this area and take photos. We will move on up to the temple covered by trees in the back soon.

I don’t remember which building I entered and took this photo at, but looking over the balcony, there was a relatively big drop that I thought was interesting.

One last photo before moving on from this area.

After climbing some stairs, we reached this temple that was somewhat hidden by trees in the previous area. Everyone started to take photos, so I thought that I’d take a photo as well. You could not go into this building.

As we transition again to a different place, there was a really nice view looking over a river and the city. I noticed that I tend to take a lot of these high-up far-ranged photos whenever I get the chance. However, the full effect of these views can only be truly experienced in person.

As our day slowly ends, we have reached one of the last few places to visit inside Ishiyama-dera. Besides the gorgeous vista, this building here was where the book Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji – Wiki) was written. I never read the book and I don’t exactly plan to ever read it, but it is a famous book written in the 11th century and considered by some to be the first novel ever written in the world.

Looking over down the hill as we approached the building.

While we could enter the building and tour the interior spaces, photography was prohibited inside. The photo above was taken after we have exited. On the inside though, there were Buddhist statues and after walking around to the back, it was like a museum with various displays. I can’t remember for sure if we saw the room where Genji Monogatari was written in.

Afterwards, we started to descend the mountain and I thought that the path was really interesting, so I turned around to took the photo above.

Before heading back to Kyoto, this garden was our final stop for the day. My friend there failed to realize that I was not trying to take a photo of him. The garden was really nice. I walked around briefly, but being tired from the long day, I sat down in that building off to the left.

This is the only other photo I have of the garden, unfortunately. I should have taken more photos.

So that was my entire day at Shiga prefecture. Not knowing much about Japanese history in general, I feel that many of these visits to historical temples and castles were kind of wasted on me. While I appreciate experiencing these places in person, my lack of knowledge made it quite difficult to fully understand the significance of all the things that I saw.

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京都留学(2012)に戻る Back to Abroad In Kyoto (2012)