The Two Hundred Disciples of the Buddha

The next morning Hiromi, Sachiho, Yoko (the Amana band) and I had breakfast in the cafe on the temple grounds at Issahaya. The sky was clear, and we decided to take a walk after we packed. The temple is famous for its rock carvings, and the forest and river are lovely. I love to walk each day, and my two favorite destinations are shrines of nature and shrines of culture, so I am in heaven.

Chef and kitchen of the cafe. Really good food at the temple cafe!

Sachiho had a flier about the landing of the Hokule’a in Nagasaki. Already she had sung at a ceremony honoring the Hokule’a in Okinawa just before flying to Kumamoto for the Rainbow Festival.

We begin our walk up a steep trail beside the temple, bowing before shrines as we went.

We pass what is probably a small cemetery, with rows of standing stones, but they are shaped more like Shiva lingams from India.

There’s a monument of a warrior or guardian spirit.

There’s a sort of obelisk.

And a stone monument with a candle lantern on top.

We see the first of a series of rock carvings, the Two Hundred Disciples of the Buddha, said to have been carved as a memorial after the Tomikawa River flooded, killing people who had been farming along its banks.

During our walk, we see many more of the Disciples:

We consult a map posted in the forest of the trails in the area, showing the location of the temple and the rocks carved with images of the Disciples.

We walk to a small, old temple deep in the forest said to contain hidden art treasures.

We walk across the suspension bridge and look down on the gorge with the river rushing below.

We are astonished to see a tiny land crab crawling in the forest floor.

The dam near the temple, and its waterfall.

Before we leave, we thank Miso Tachibana, the monk who cares for the temple, for inviting us to play at the festival, for arranging for our supper and breakfast at the cafe, and for lodging us in the comfortable bungalow where we spent the night. We even got to bathe at a nearby hot springs after our supper. Altogether it was gorgeous!