Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I find these days I have begun to appreciate small towns, places with more space, fewer people, less rushing about, and more time for strolling and lingering. Mutsumi and I have over the years enjoyed visiting Tsuwano for a day or two of quiet, but yesterday decided to try some place new. With a population of just under 200,000, Yamaguchi is a bit larger than Tsuwano and lacks its isolated mountain charm, but we found its quaintness quotient high enough to perhaps warrant a return visit.

Among the sites are the St Francis Xavier Memorial Church, which features a museum chronicling the life of Xavier, who once visited the area, and Japan's communities of secret Christians.

The church is located in a large park criss-crossed by a few roads and also containing prefectural, history, and art museums.

Just north of the park area is perhaps Yamaguchi's landmark attraction, Rurikoji, a Soto Zen temple featuring a 600 year old pagoda, lovingly displayed in a manicured garden surrounding a large pond.

Giant juzu (rosary)

An altar for mizuko

Just beyond that is Joeiji, a Rinzai temple with a sculpted garden, where Mutsumi and I took our picnic lunch.

The town is loaded with shrines, including the prefectural shrine of the war dead, Gokoku Jinja.

Rental bicycles are available at Yamaguchi station and make a comfortable and convenient way to see the city. Some of you know that Mutsumi is not too comfortable on two wheels, but she did a marvelous job yesterday (except for scraping her elbow on a tunnel wall) and seems ready to start riding in Fukuoka.

We finished the day with a soak at one of the hot springs of the neighboring town of Yuda, before returning to Fukuoka for a touch of Thai at one of our neighborhood eateries.

Altogether a lovely day, a tasty sample of Japan before heading off to Nepal next Tuesday.



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