Not content to have yesterday’s gorgeous weather pass me by while I stayed inside and worked all day, I was compelled to visit one of my favourite places in Ichonoseki, Japan: the shrine on top of the hill in Nakano district.
The cedar-forested hill is as peaceful as you can imagine – the only hint of movement is the slowly undulating shadows on the forest floor as the light passes through the gently swaying tree tops. At the base of the hill is a small garden where a butterfly landed on my cheek as I approached – evidently, with my fully-sprouted beard, I now resemble lichen.
Long stone steps begin at the entrance to the forest and lead up to the shrine. Less than halfway up the steps is a group of miniature stone houses where spirits undoubtedly live. A red-bibbed Jizo statue also chooses this isolated location to loiter.
The shrine itself isn’t Japan’s largest, most beautiful or most holy, but it certainly gets high ranks for peacefulness. During my whole time there yesterday, I only saw one other person willing to hike up the plentiful steps to reach a piece of privacy. I can only imagine the experience of visiting some of Kyoto’s temples in such solitude. If it was ever possible, lonely visitors to those places were lucky.
I took along my camera despite the harsh midday light. Here are my three favourite shots of the visit: