Thursday, December 29, 2016

Finding Zen at Nanzoin Temple

Fukuoka wasn't really on my travel map until cheap tickets made me decide to go. The adventurous side of me wanted to visit another part of Japan as I've been to the usual places on my earlier trips. I didn't really decide on what to do and places to visit until the start of the day. I ended up deciding to visit Nanzoin Temple, because the other option was too far away.


Finding Zen

What I like about Japan's cities are that beautiful gardens or green areas are accessible. Whether you just enjoy nature or want to leave the hustle and bustle of the city, a temple or garden is just within reach. As I rode the train to Nanzoin, the landscape transformed from the concrete jungle of the city to the lush, verdant countryside and one story houses. The colors of autumn added to the vibrancy of the small town by the mountains where the temple was located.



From the train station, it was a short leisurely walk to Nanzoin Temple. The entrance was already putting visitors in the mood for some peace and quiet.



The original location of the temple was in Mt. Koyasan, but was later moved to its current place in 1899. Nanzoin has many chapels and shrines scattered in different parts of the hillside. During my trip, there were very few people in the garden and temple complex, which made it even more pleasant. I got to enjoy nature and just sit down and think.



I saw quite a lot of Buddha statues wearing scarves and caps while I was exploring the garden and temple complex.


Thousands visit the temple complex as part of the famous Sasaguri Pilgrimage. Thankfully, it wasn't that time of the year yet as only a handful of people came and went to say their prayers or simply walk around.


The main attraction of the temple is the giant reclining Buddha. It is said to be one of the biggest, with measurements of 41m long, 11m high and weighing 300 tons. The Buddha's position is called "nehan-zo" which means it is lying on its side. It represents Buddha's completion of his teachings and is on his way to enter Nirvana.






Nanzoin Temple is worth a half-day trip from Fukuoka as it shows you a different side of Japan, aside from the usual bustling cities.

How to Get to Nanzoin Temple

Like most places in Japan, Nanzoin Temple is accessible from Fukuoka City, it's only on train ride away. Board a Kidonanzoin-Mae Station bound train, the trip takes around 20-25 minutes one way from Hakata Station. The ticket costs Y370 one way. The temple is a short walk from the station, you won't get lost as it is very easy to find. If you want to enter the prayer room, you have to pay an additional fee of Y500.



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