Last sunday I had a great time looking for ... momiji in the woods !
Autumn season in Japan is famous for its trees but especially the maple trees which gradually turn colours from green into yellow, then orange and finally burning red, all of this from September to December depending on the area. In Fukuoka, it usually happens from the beginning to the end of November, the best time being around the 20th. But this year, it seems to be a bit late.
We started the visit with all the shrines on the left of the picture, as there were only few maple trees on this side. We saw lots of cherry trees so I thought it must be beautiful during the spring season. In the first shrine (Hyaku Kannon-dô 百観音堂), there were a hundred of golden statues of the goddess 'Kannon'. A bit further, monks were praying. The inside of the temple was stunning but as a sign of respect, I didn't take any pictures.
|Chinju-sha shrine on the right and on the left the Awashima Myoin Chinju-sha which is meant to protect women from diseases|
On the way down back to the bus stop, we walked by the 極楽往生院 (Gokurakuojo-in), there was a little pond called the Roku Jizô ike (六地蔵池) and standing next to it, a thousand Jizo statues (水子地蔵). The game is to find the one which looks like you, as all are different.. We quickly gave up as there were way too many of them !
Before getting back on the bus, we had the chance to look around, it was such a beautiful fall landscape, though it was early, the sun was going down and everything took a golden colour which was just magical. Don't you want to move out from the city and settle down in the countryside? I'd see myself living there, in the middle of this wonderful nature, having a little yard, a plum tree, a cherry tree and a maple tree so I could admire their colours in each season; oh and also I would have some bamboos ! Maybe in few years, who knows !
It is possible to spend a good amount of the day there as there are few food shops. You can find several temples/shrines around and the ones who love hiking will really enjoy taking the little ways through the forest.
By the way, did you know that the little town of Sasaguri is famous for its shrine pilgrimage ? The 88-shrines pilgrimage of Shikoku island is quite famous, but this one a smaller version that you can do in 3 to 4 days (instead of 2 to 3 weeks for the Shikoku's one) but also allows you to visit 88 shrines !
To conclude, let's just have a bit of a talk about these two words : 'momiji' and 'koyo'. They have the same writing in kanji (紅葉) but their meanings are often mistaken.
Koyo stands for trees that change colours, in general : we can talk about the 'koyo season' (紅葉の季節).
Momiji is associated to the red Japanese maple trees, to say 'the viewing of maple trees' you use 'momiji-gari' (紅葉狩り).
Adress : 227-4, Hagio, Sasaguri machi, Kasuya-gun, Fukuoka
Phone : 092－947-4423
Closest station : Sasaguri (Fukuhoku Yutaka Line).