Autumn Colors in Kuroishi
If you are a lover of autumn foliage like myself, then I highly recommend you visit Nakano Momiji Yama in Kuroishi City. Nestled in the foothills on the eastern edge of Kuroishi, this area attracts lots and lots of leaf peepers and shutterbugs every autumn.
Nakano Momoji Yama has been home to over 100 different varieties of Japanese maple since they were brought from Kyoto by the Tsugaru feudal lord in 1802. It envelopes the Nakano Shrine, which is also home to several amazingly large cedar trees aged from 500-700 years old. It is also has some hiking trails offering great views of the surrounding mountains and areas. They also light up the lovely maple trees at night, making for a truly breathtaking sight. (Unfortunately I haven’t seen it at night myself).
Better than describe how beautiful these Japanese maples are, I think you had better take a look for yourself…
Another great thing about Momiji Yama is that you can spend anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours depending on how much time you have. A visit to the shrine or hiking the trails is a great choice if you want to truly take your time and see everything. Once you are done, and if it is still light out and you still have some space left in your camera’s memory card, then there is another hidden gem close by to Momiji Yama… a Buddhist temple famous for it’s zen coffee- Josen-ji Temple.
A temple of the Jodo or Pure Land Sect of Buddhism, Josen-ji was founded in 1824 after a Buddhist monk by the name of Zeku had a vision of the Buddha during his training instructing him to come to this secluded mountain area and create a quiet retreat for monks to devote themselves to their training. Since its founding, the temple has also served as a “Terakoya”, or place of learning to educate children how to read and write, do arithmetic, and learn about Buddhist teachings before public schools were established in Japan.
Completely different from Momiji Yama and its slightly crowded atmosphere, Josen-ji offers an even more Japanese autumn experience. The mountains surrounding the temple were deep with fiery hues of scarlet and ruby on golden oranges and yellows in an eerily silent surrounding. From the silence the temple bell’s low vibrating song echoed up and down the mountainside until once again falling silent in a fleeting instant, reminding me of a Buddhist vision of paradise.
I suppose the most out of place thing at this temple would have to be its famous coffee. One would think that green tea would be more fitting, but the priest here brews one amazingly contemplative cup of coffee that somehow works and compliments the beautiful temple grounds and warms up visitors in the fresh cool mountain air.
Nakano Momiji Yama & Josen-ji Temple
Best time to visit for fall colors: Late October through early November
Accessible by a 25 minute bus ride from Kuroishi Station (Konan Railway Konan Line)