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Momiji at Nomiyama Kannon Temple

by - 7:10 AM

Last sunday I had a great time looking for ... momiji in the woods !

Momiji

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.



This weekend, 80% of the trees were still green in most places and as the weather forecast announced a nice weather, I looked for a place where we could see the color-changing trees, or at least few of them. I found the temple complex called Nomiyama-Kannon (呑山観音寺) and according to their website, it was THE right time to come and see the maple trees before their leaves start falling.
The complex is located on top of a little city called Sasaguri (篠栗), near the forest on the east side of Fukuoka. It is not very famous and relatively hard to get to, as the nearest station, in the city of Sasaguri, is 8km away and you can either walk or take a taxi. There is a bus, but only running on the 3rd Sunday of the month.
Lucky us, we could catch the bus at 1:40pm that was bringing us up to the temple, it took around 30 minutes and we were the only people in it. When we finally got there, we got scared when we saw all the parked cars, but it was not that crowded in the end. Feww. The visit was pretty quick as we had to take the bus back to the station an hour and 15 minutes later.
Here is a picture of the temple organisation :
Plan du Nomiyama Kannon-ji

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.

Hyaku Kannon-dô

Hyaku Kannon-dô

Hyaku Kannon-dô

Hyaku Kannon-dô

Hyaku Kannon-dô

Nomiyama Kannon-ji

Nomiyama Kannon-ji

Nomiyama Kannon-ji

Nomiyama Kannon-ji

Tenjin Chinju-sha et  Awashima Myôin Chinju-sha
Chinju-sha shrine on the right and on the left the Awashima Myoin Chinju-sha which is meant to protect women from diseases
 
As I said, it was a pretty quick visit, and after visiting the left side, we went to the right part of the complex which is the most famous part for maple trees viewing. We walked through a little pathway where we were the only ones and when we got there, I was simply amazed. The scenery made me completely forget about the buildings, it was a wonderful rainbow of colours, from the light green to the shiny red with some yellow and orange touches. It was definitely the right time to admire the maple trees as on the way to the Tenno-in (天王院), lots of them were loosing their leaves, how lucky we came! 

Erables japonais, momiji

Erables japonais, momiji

Erables japonais, momiji

Erables japonais, momiji et omikuji

Nomiyama Kannon

Momiji au Nomiyama Kannon

Momiji au Nomiyama Kannon

Momiji au Nomiyama Kannon

Feuille d'érable japonais

Momiji au Nomiyama Kannon

Momiji au Nomiyama Kannon

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 !


Gokurakuojo-in



水子地蔵

Roku Jizô ike et momiji

Roku Jizô ike et momiji

水子地蔵 jizô

Roku Jizô ike et momiji

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 !
Couleurs d'automne dans la campgane japonaise

Couleurs d'automne dans la campgane japonaise

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).



NOMIYAMA-KANNON-JI
Adress : 227-4, Hagio, Sasaguri machi, Kasuya-gun, Fukuoka
Phone : 092-947-4423
Price : free
Closest station : Sasaguri (Fukuhoku Yutaka Line).
Website (jp)

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