Saturday, October 26, 2013

October 4

By Al

Today was our last full day in Osaka.  We decided that since the typhoon had robbed us of our chance to experience wild Japan, we at least wanted to get away from the city to the countryside.  We weren't sure where to go.  We thought of going to Koyosan, but when we got to the station we found that it would cost about $100 per person to go there.  That seemed a little steep for a day trip.  We had unlimited JR passes, so we asked the people at the station if they had a suggestion.  They were extremely helpful.  They consulted with each other, looked at map and schedules and came to the recommendation that we should take the JR train up the west coast of Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan.  It is north east of Osaka.

We decided to take the train to the end of the line, since this would be less populated than some of the towns on the south end of the lake.  That was a correct assumption.  The train ended at Adogawa, a small town.  We were the only gaijin around.  We had a very nice dinner and walked about three blocks to the lake.  It was very pleasant. 


Drew looking at Lake Biwa.

Houses along Lake Biwa.

On the way up to Adogawa, we noticed a town with a very picturesque temple near the tracks.  The town was Kitakamatsu. We decided to stop there on the way back.  We say that when we travel the best things that happen are serendipity.  This is one of those times.  We walked about a block from the train station to the temple.  There was an older man and woman working in a garden near the temple.  We said hello to them as we walked by.  It was our intention only look at the temple from the road and the go further up the hill to where there were supposed to be some waterfalls. 

However, as we were looking at the temple, the older man approached us and invited us into the temple.  He was the former priest.  His son was the current priest. But, the old priest and his wife still lived at the temple and take care of it.  He invited us into the temple, gave us a brochure about it, gave us something to drink, gave us prayer bracelets and then showed us around the temple grounds. As we were preparing to leave, he went into the house, and got a bag of sweets to give us.  His wife came and joined us and also showed us some things. The two of them exchanged some conversation.  (Sally's comment- I think that she was telling him that he should have given us more things- whereupon she went back into the house.) She returned with a bag full of many crackers and snacks.  It made us realize that we really need to carry gifts with us wherever we go so that if something like this happens, we can reciprocate.

The temple from the train track.

The main temple building is with the grass roof to the right.

Lake Biwa from the temple.  The train track is in the middle of the picture.

Amy and the former priest.  Statue of Hotei in the background.  We all rubbed his tummy for good luck.

Jizo, a Bodhisattva,  is the protector of children, expectant mothers, firemen, and travelers.  He is reported to have refused to become a Buddha until everybody is saved and hell is emptied.

A bicycle junkyard near the station. It is nothing but bicycles and bicycle parts.

The waiting area on the train platform.  These are knit pads supplied by the local people. (Sally's comment- the waiting area is a non-smoking area- the opposite of what we find in the U.S.)

It was night when we got back to Osaka, so we rested and packed for the next day and our trip to Nagasaki.

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