This is another of Nagaokakyo's beautiful temples, but this place is not so well know as Komyo-ji. Youkoku-ji (aka "Yanagidani Kannon") is set right up in the mountains about 5km to the south west of the city centre, it's considered to be the best place to see Hydrangeas in Nagaokakyo during the flowering season. During the Hydrangea season in 2010 Ritsuko, Emi and I caught the shuttle bus there from Nagaokakyo station on a Sunday afternoon. Not only were the Hydrangeas fantastic, but also we found it was a very beautiful temple complex in someways similar to Komyo-ji, but smaller. I especially liked sitting beside the shady carp pond (top right) at the back of the complex.
Access to Youkoku is easy during the Hydrangea (late June) and Maple (late November) Festivals, as there are shuttle buses running from JR Nagaokakyo and Hankyu Nagaoka Tenjin Stations. However at other times of the year private transport, taxi or hiking is necessary. Unless you are a very strong cyclist I wouldn't recommend cycling up there as the road is very steep and you'll probably be pushing the bike most of the way, but the return trip might be fun! It's quite easy to follow the road to get there, just keep following Azalea-dori in a westerly direction from Hankyu Nagaoka Tenjin Station passing the Nagaoka Tenmangu shrine and then turn left at the traffic lights on to Yanagidani-michi which will take you into the mountains and eventually to the temple. There are some Romanised signs marked with "Yanagidani Kannon" along the way.
Click here to view more photos from this outing.
25/03/2013 Note: Hi all it's been a long time since I've posted to pbase, more than eight months. I've been extremely busy with a few projects including helping my wife write and publish her latest book called “It was Him”. This new book tells our story of our first 3 years in Japan how God's hand guided and provided for us. It's available via Blurb, click here to check it out. I've got a lot planned for this Mission Japan PBLOG, so stay tuned. Additionally I'm working on a book project of my own which will also be published to our blurb site when it's ready. Plus for my latest photos check out my smugmug site. - James