Nanchara Kaido

Japan's onsen, Touring and Tokyo life

 

Oita Prefecture

Yabakei and Rakanji in Oita

この投稿は日本語 で表示できます This post is also available in Japanese
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After more than one and a half day trip by ship, we arrived at Shin-moji Harbor.
First, we headed to Beppu Hot Spring in Oita Prefecture.
It doesn't take much time if we use turnpike from Shin-moji to Beppu, but we decided to use public highway instead.

There was no need to hurry, because restaurants or shops are still closed as it was 6:30 in the morning.

Buy Digital Camera in Oita

By the way, on the ferry, I noticed that my beloved digital camera RICOHcx1 was suddenly broken.

This is how it looked when we try to take a photo - a black shadow appeared on the corner of the monitor screen.

カメラ不調でレンズの隅に陰が!

The problem seems to be mechanical, not because of lens cover.
I tried changing the setup of my camera to fix it, but it resulted in causing new error - picture on the monitor screen looked blurred compared to original picture data.

Therefore, we decided to buy a new digital camera on our way.

It seems that there are several electronics retail stores on the way from Shin-moji to Beppu.
Can we handle a digital camera bought without previous research?
Anyway, we had no choice.

A Scenic Spot, Yabakei and Blue Domon(Tunnel)

As we drive Buzen bypass toward Beppu, a signboard of a shopping mall showed up.Among several big shops in a vast site, there was Yamada Denki, an electronics retail store.
It was almost 10:00, an opening time of the store, and we decided to buy our new digital camera there.

As expected, Yamada Denki did not offer much choice of stock.
Somehow, we bought a compact camera of SONY, as cheap as one night drinking.

Because battery of the new digital camera was empty, we had to use RICOHcx1 for the day. Anyhow, we were relieved that we could get a new camera.

Longest Stone Bridge in Japan, Yabakei Bridge

On our way to shopping mall, we saw a sign saying "Blue Domon", meaning a blue tunnel. As it was such a warm day, like an early summer, we were both attracted by its cool sound "blue".

Now, leaving Yamada Denki, we inputted our destination into our car navigation system, heading to Blue Tomon. After driving for a while, a signboard saying "Yabakei Bridge" came into our sight.

地味にたたずむ耶馬渓橋

As we look toward the liver, there was a HUGE, magnificent stone bridge, largest bridge we ever saw. No wonder, the full length of the bridge is 116 meters, the longest one in Japan. Furthermore, this is the only bridge that has 8 arches in a row, and Yabakei is called king of the stone bridge.

When seen closely, we found out that some parts of the bridge, like parapets, were damaged and crumbling.

近くで見ると橋の欄干とかかなり崩れています

It was prohibited to cross over the bridge, as it was under repair then (as of May 2013)

橋の上は通行出来ませんでした(2013年5月現在)

Blue Domon, a Hand-Dug Tunnel in Edo Era

Heading to Blue Domon, we drove along the liver form Yabakei Bridge.

車道のこのトンネルも、かつての手彫りの洞門の名残

Presently, after catching sight of many excavation, we suddenly came to an open space, where several drive-in opens.

青の洞門のドライブインに到着

Beside the parking of the drive-in, there stood a bronze statue of Zenkai, a Buddhist priest who is said to have made Blue Domon.

禅海和尚の銅像

By reading the monument stone, we can see how Zenkai came to make a tunnel.

Zenkai, who was born in Echigo, traveled around countries as training and came to Oita in Kyoho era.

There he happened to witness an accident - a person falling from a plank path on a rock cliff by Yamakuni Liver.

Zenkai thought it is his job to get rid of the danger, and started digging the rock cliff by chisel.

After 30 years, his hard will finally penetrated the tunnel of 32 meters long.
We hereby inscribe his great achievement on this monument.

15 May 1990 / Hon'yabakeimachi

Blue Domon dug by Zenkai is still traversable, only on foot. We decided to take a walk through Domon.

Zenkai was born in a Samurai family of Echizen Takada fief. When he was 10 years old, his father passed away and he moved to Edo prefecture with his mother. Without father, his life there was miserable. He started to hang out with gangsters, became a robber, and finally committed manslaughter on the spur of the moment.

His mother was worried about him to death.

After loss of his mother, he came to his senses and became a priest to atone for his sin. While wondering among countries, he is said to have reached to Yabakei.

禅海和尚手掘りのトンネルも残されている

Some tracks of the chisel were left in the tunnel, but most of the wall was covered by concrete.

内部は大部分がコンクリートで覆われていた

Blue Tunnel Was the Oldest Toll Road

To atone his sin, Zenkai devoted half his life digging the tunnel for people. This admirable story has a sequel: After the tunnel was completed, Zenkai collected toll from people using the tunnel. With that toll, he spent a luxury life.

It is said that this Blue Domon was the oldest toll road.

Congestion charging system was popular among bandits. Even though he became a priest, it may be natural for Zenkai, former rascal, to come up with the idea. I guess he had a sharp mind to make the system an official business.

Also, it is said that Zenkai built a small house with two rooms beside Domon, where he lived together with a housekeeper. Just housekeeping? I doubt that.

Domon go across under a roadway, leading to liver side.

禅海和尚手彫りのトンネルは、車道をくぐって川沿いに出る

A roadway tunnel used to be a small hand-dug tunnel. However, after a massive repair in 1906, the tunnel was widened so that vehicles can pass through to a maneuvering ground.

現在も所々に手彫りの鑿跡が見えるトンネル内部

Rakanji temple, a Temple Famous for Unique Stone Statues and Shamojis

Now that we visited blue Domon and Yabakei Bridge, we were heading to Beppu. At that time, I saw a sign "Rakanji temple" on the side of the road.

According to the sign, Rakanji temple is placed at the direction toward mountain area. Rakanji temple... I have heard of the name...

I am a kind of familiar with Buddha Statues and old artworks, so I may have read about Rakanji temple in one of the relevant articles. Oh, I do wish to visit there...as I was not sure if I have next chance to visit Kyushu, distant from my hometown.

My buddy, who preferred to go directly to hot spring in Beppu, seemed reluctant, but I begged and persuaded him to stop by at Rakanji temple.

耶馬渓の奥にある羅漢寺にも行ってみることに

As we drove along the liver, we came across a rocky mountain rising steeply. On a mountainside, wo could see lots of rugged holes.

山肌には道の様な穴が無数に開いている

Is Rakanji temple at the top of the mountain? Well, it seems hard to go up there.

We looked around the rocky mountain, but could not find any sign indicating "Rakanji temple this way".

As we passed by the mountain, there was a parking of Rakanji temple. However, we could not see any temples around.

We were nervous not knowing how much we have to walk to visit the temple.
At that time, a passer-by at the parking told us that we can go further by a car.

There Is a Lift to Rakanji temple, Discreet at the Entrance

When we drove several hundreds meters from the parking, we came to see stairs for the approach to the temple.

By the stairs, there was a teahouse and another parking for visitors.

どこまで上らせれるか分からない羅漢寺の石段

As I look up at stairs leading to temple, I was overwhelmed. Wow, how long will it last..?

"Now what?" my buddy said. It looked so hard to go up all the stairs, even for me with motivation.

Then, a proprietress came out of the tea house and chatted us up. "You know, there is a lift to mountaintop over there."

Yay, thank her for the good news!

We couldn't see it from entrance, but if you go up 5 steps, there was a passage to go left which leads to a lift terminal.

案内に従って道を逸れるも、それらしい建物は見当たらない

Hmm.. Where is it?

The old building at the front is called "Zenkaido" museum, and goods used by Zenkai were displayed there - goods such as chisels and hammers used to dig the Domon. However, when I visited there, the entrance door was closed. It seemed that the building has not been maintained for a long time. I wished I could look inside, if the museum was still under operation.

There was a narrow path beside Zenkaido, leading to a lift terminal at the back of Zenkaido.

Lift takes visitors to Rakanji temple and to the terminus mountaintop.
This time, we bought tickets to the mountaintop.

羅漢寺に向かうロープェー乗り場
リフトで山頂を目指す

First, we headed to Rakanji temple.

羅漢寺はこっち→

When we got off the lift, a small stone statue of Rakans welcomed us.

岩の隙間に安置された羅漢像

Rakan means a pupil of Shaka, and there are 3770 statues of Rakans at Rakanji temple. This temple has a long history, and it is said that Hoto Sennin from India built this temple in 645, about 1300 years ago.

As we kept on walking, there was an old hokora (small shrine) at the side of the approach.

参道脇の謎の祠

In front of hokora, many shamojis (rice scoop spoon) were hung. What are these for?

祠に奉納されたしゃもじ

They reminded me of a big shamoji signboard, one meters long, in front of a police station at mountain foot. That big shamoji originate in these enshrined shamojis, I guess.

Sukuu (scoop) Means to Save/Help People

Here is a reason why shamojis were dedicated as votive tablet: people believed that Rakans relieve (scoop up) people from troubles or sorrows.

We noticed that peoples' wish were written on shamojis. For some reasons, most of the wishes were related to fulfillment in love.

『イケメンの』ってあたりがなんか・・・

"Please I want a good-looking boyfriend."

I wondered why.. Do Rakans have a power of matchmaking?

In hokora, many stone statues were enshrined. I was not sure if they are Rakans, as there were no explanation board regarding them.

リフト近くの祠のの中に祀られた石像

People say that everybody can find a statue that look alike for themselves. Among more than 3000 stone statues, there may be one or two Rakans concerned with love matters.

We moved on to next spot. At the side of the approach, we could see many humorous Rakan statues, some are relaxing and some are training. Now, we came upon a gate.

沿道にも羅漢像がたくさん
寝っ転がって寛いでいる像なんかも見受けられます

It seems that side road leads us to a big building ahead. Above our head, there was a wooden building bigger than hokora at the lift terminal.

もうすぐ山門
参道脇にはさっきとは違う祠が

We saw many hanged shamojis here also. When we read the explanation panel there, I found out that this hokora was built as a memorial service for mizukos (miscarried fetuses).

Serious stories written on the board made me sorrowful.

水子を供養する千体地蔵の

In this hokora, thousand zizous (stone statues) were enshrined to appease spirits of mizukos.

They have larger number of statues in this hokora than they do in hokora at the lift terminal. Also, each statues are meticulously made compared to rougher statues in hokora at the lift terminal.

千体地蔵その1
千体地蔵その3

According to a biography of this temple, a high priest named Fukaku Zenji made and enshrined these thousand zizous and Ju-oh-sons (statues of 10 honored kings) in Muromachi era.

千体地蔵その2

Murokutsu, a Grotto Where 500 Rakan Statues Are Enshrined

Now we arrived at the temple gate.

羅漢寺山門

When we enter the gate, there was a temple in a cave called Murokutsu. Many shamojis were displayed here also.

山門を入ってすぐにある岩屋は無漏窟(むろくつ)

In Murokutsu, Gohyaku Rakan statues are set out in a law along the wall.

無漏窟(むろくつ)入り口

According to record, two monks, Gyakuryu Kenzyun and Syokaku Zenji, engraved these Gohyaku Rakan statues in only one year. Gohyaku Rakan means 500 Rakan statues, but actually, there are more than 700 statues enshrined here.

無漏窟(むろくつ)内部
無漏窟(むろくつ)内部2
五百羅漢像
五百羅漢像2
五百羅漢像3
五百羅漢像5
五百羅漢像6

Rakanji temple Main Temple

Leaving behind Murokutsu, we passed small stone steps leading to Rakanji temple main temple caved in rocks.

無漏窟(むろくつ)の先には羅漢寺の本堂が

Compared to gate and Murokutsu, main temple seemed to be in a good condition. No wonder, original main temple was burned down by fire in 1943, and present temple was re-constructed in 1969.

羅漢寺本堂は昭和44年の物

At the side of the main temple, there was a pond in which varicolored carps were swimming.

本堂の脇にある池は元は滝壺

This pond used to be a basin of a waterfall. If we see from aside, we can notice water traces on rocks over the pond.

池の上には水に浸食されたような跡が

The reason why the waterfall was dried up was unknown. There was a well of holy water, elixir of life, in Murokutsu, but it was also dried up.

無漏窟(むろくつ)内部の甘露水も枯れてるっぽい

Above is a picture of a well. Water vein has changed, I guess.

本堂内部は有料で拝観出来る

Admission fee to enter inside the main temple was 300 yen. After passing the entrance, we were guided to a cavern by the temple.

えーっと、本堂は?

The cavern leads to second floor of the main temple. Inside the tunnel, an outlook on the world of dead were displayed.
It looked like a bonze tour, and this kind of bonze tour displays are common among Japanese big temples.

By the entrance, there was a statue of Datsueba, a guardian of Acheron, river of death. As we walk through darkish tunnel, we suddenly encountered a framed monochrome photo on a wall.

洞窟入り口の脱衣婆の像

Mummy of Ogre Child

As we walk through darkish tunnel, we suddenly encountered a framed monochrome photo on a wall.

鬼の子のミイラの写真?

Unfortunately, original mummy was burned by fire in 1943. We could not find a board to explain details like why this mummy of ogre was left in this temple.

Finally, we came to second floor of the main building. What a beautiful scenery!

本堂二階からの眺望

It was best time to see wisteria in Kyushu, and we could see countless elegant wisteria flowers blooming on the dreary approach to Rakanji temple.

羅漢寺はまさに藤に花のの見頃

Stairs to go down continues.

階段がさらに続いている

We passed a bridge thrown across the cave close to the roof.

やたらと天井の低い橋を渡ると・・・

On the rock wall, there were holes like a whatnot, where small bisque Rakan statues were displayed in line.

素焼きの小さな羅漢像

This statue at the edge is called Gokuraku-no-Nadeinu, pat dog of heaven. We had no idea what kind of blessing we would have if we pat the dog, but anyway, we gave it a try.

なで犬なでなで

The Site of Shigetsuan

Again, we came to a place like a garden.

再び庭に出ました

As we go on, we came to an open space where a signboard saying " the Site of Shigetsuan" stands.

指月庵跡

Shigetsuan was Sukiya-style tearoom with a thatch roof, made by Nagakatsu Ogasawara, a Nakatsu domain head. This building was also burned in 1943 fire, and there was nothing to remind what it was like then.

これが指月庵跡地。何もない

This was the end of the admitted area. Now, let's go back to lift terminal.

そろそろリフトに引き返します

Statue of a Dragon Fighting against Christians by Emitting Eye Beam

As I come back, I found a statue of a Rakan shouldering a big bell at side of the stairs.

釣り鐘を背負った像

I remembered seeing that bell above a big rock on my way from lift terminal.

下から見上げると少しだけ見える釣り鐘堂

Approach to the bell was closed because of a landslide, but we were able to read an explanation board overhead of Rakan.

焼き討ちから寺を守った龍の石像

tatue of a Dragon Who Saved Temple from Fire Attack

Sorin Otomo, a Daimyo (feudal load) who governed Bungo area from 1530 to 1587, believed in Christianity. He burned down many temples in his territory to eliminate Buddhism. According to folk story, when Otomo parties came to attack Rakanji temple, this dragon emitted a beam of light from its eyes. Because of this beam, Otomo parties lost their vigor and the shrine was saved from fire attack.

t is known that in Kyushu, many loads such as Ukon Takayama and Nagamasa Kuroda converted to Christianity. We can see that Buddhism had an era of hardship, until the time has come for Christianity to be prohibited in Edo era.

This is the statue of beam-emitting dragon. In this picture, color of the statue is blended into rock's tone, but it looks more clearly if you see it directly.

龍の像はコレ

Mountaintop Station

We came back to lift terminal. When I was looking down from the lift, I saw people coming up the mountain on foot. Wow, I admire their toughness!

山頂に向かって再出発!

Now, we arrived at mountaintop station. We were expecting an amazing view from this altitude.

山頂駅は植物園みたいになっていた

Mountaintop is formed like a botanical gardens, and we could not see any landscape because clump of trees were surrounding the path.

ここからさらに展望台にのぼる

As we move on, a coarse metal tower appeared ahead of us. Well, do we have to climb that tower?

Wow, what a scene!

山頂のさらに展望台にのぼった景色

By the way, this observation tower should be more stylish, don't you think?

Honestly speaking, I thought lift ticket to Rakanji temple station was suffice for us, no bother to by ticket to mountaintop station.

Having Oita Local Food "Yaseuma" at the Teahouse

After coming down to mountain foot by lift, we decided to have lunch at the teahouse by passage.

羅漢寺参道入り口のお茶屋さん
お茶屋さん内部

We both ordered soba noodle. Among the menu, this dish caught our eyes. This is Yaseuma, local food of Oita.

これが『やせうま』だ!

It is a kind of dessert, wide noodle like udon coated by kinako sugar powder. Yaseuma means a skinny horse. We wonder why this dessert is called by such a name.

As you can see, Yaseuma is just like udon noodle, so it may be heavy for your stomach if you plan to eat it as a dessert after your meal.

Now, let's re-start our trip to Beppu. You see, our side trips are taking our time..

Translated byooo70ooo

Rakanji

Address: 1501, Honyabakeimachi Atoda, Nakatsu-shi, Oita,

Tel:0979-52-2538

URL:

This post is also available in 日本語.

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