At the start of autumn, I found myself down in Yamaguchi city, on the southern part of the main island of Japan. I was exhausted and unable to motivate myself to do an insane travel schedule to see the nearby limestone caves, so instead, I decided to go to one of the top three temples in all of Japan: Rurikoji.
Rurikoji is famous for its five-tiered pagoda, which is made completely from wood and has been standing proud for hundreds of years, having first been built in 1442. As you enter the temple grounds, the pagoda stands to your right. There is a tranquil pond and small park area connected to the temple grounds, making for an enjoyable stroll and relaxing environment.
Temple shops provide a great way to support the temple while getting yourself a nice souvenir. Rurikoji had these nice flower charms that corresponded to the months of the year. For November, my birth month, it was a Chrysanthemum. For June, my wife’s birth month, it was a Japanese Lily. Buying charms and figures from temples directly supports their operation costs. At Rurikoji, because the pagoda is a valued natural treasure, the temple itself foots 5% of the restoration and upkeep costs. This adds up quickly when you consider the pagoda has to be reroofed every 30 years.
The temple shop proved to be a great source of information as well. The priest who was manning the shop handed me a paper, which was an interview with the chief priest of the temple compiled and translated into English by the Noda High School Translate Club. You can feel the sense of pride the chief priest feels for the pagoda. It has a rich history which draws close to 1,000 visitors every day. I was very appreciative of this information, so if anyone from the Noda High School Translate Club is reading, thank you! I will end this post with a quote from the interview by the chief priest himself:
“I do hope you feel the beauty of the gentle lines of the five-story pagoda and the balance between this temple and nature.”