Hello, this is _hiroyuki.ta. This time, we will be reporting on a trip to touring spots in Nagano Prefecture on Harley-Davidson’s FLSB Sport Glide. Nagano Prefecture has many attractive things such as beautiful nature, historical culture, and delicious specialty products. This time, I ran towards Kozenji, the head temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism. Kozenji Temple is counted as one of the Shinano Gozan of the Tendai sect, and is known for its garden, which has been designated as a national scenic spot, and the fairy tale of the spirit dog Sataro. Let’s take a look at the details of the trip.
Taking a break at Suwako SA
The departure point is central Tokyo.
I took the Chuo Expressway and first took a break at Suwako SA.
Suwako SA is located almost in the middle of the entire Chuo Expressway, and can be accessed from Tokyo or Nagoya in about 2 hours and 30 minutes. It is an SA where you can enjoy a spectacular view of Lake Suwa and the mountains, and in winter, you can sometimes see the natural phenomenon of Omiwatari.
Omiwatari is a phenomenon in which cracks appear as the ice expands and contracts repeatedly after the surface of the lake has completely frozen over, and there is a romantic legend that it is said to be the route taken by the male god of Suwa Taisha Shrine to meet the goddess.
I didn’t eat, but just drank some coffee and took a breather.
There are also shops and restaurants within SA that sell special products from Nagano Prefecture. Speaking of Nagano Prefecture, it is famous for fruits such as apples and grapes, and local dishes such as soba and oyaki. Nagano Prefecture also boasts the highest volume of wine production in Japan. I like wine, so if there was a wine I was interested in, I thought I’d buy it.
Lunch in Ina City
After getting back on the Chuo Expressway from Suwako SA and driving for a while, I arrived at Ina IC. Here we descended to the lower road and headed towards Ina City. Ina City is the center of southern Shinshu, and is an attractive city with rich nature, history and culture. In Ina City, we decided to have lunch.
Ina City’s famous dishes are
Basashi'' andShinshu Soba.” “Basashi” is horse meat sashimi, and it is commonly eaten with soy sauce or wasabi. “Shinshu soba” is handmade soba made with 100% buckwheat flour, and the soup and toppings vary depending on the region.
Sightseeing at Kozenji Temple
To go from Ina City to Kozenji Temple, go south on National Route 153. National Route 153 is a road that offers views of mountains such as the Southern Alps and Central Alps, making it ideal for touring. I arrived at Kozenji Temple in about 40 minutes, enjoying a comfortable ride.
Kozenji is a special head temple of the Tendai sect located in Ako, Komagane City, Nagano Prefecture. The name of the mountain is Mt. Hoshaku. The name of the hospital is Mudoin. The principal image is Fudo Myoo, a hidden Buddha. It was counted as one of the Tendai sect Shinano Gozan (Kenko-ji Temple, Zenko-ji Temple, Sarashina Hachiman Jingu-ji Temple, Tsugane-ji Temple, and Kozen-ji Temple on Mt. Togakushi). In 1967 (Showa 42), the garden was designated as a national scenic spot. He is also known for the story of the spirit dog Hayataro.
I first entered the temple grounds through the Niomon gate at the entrance. The Niomon Gate had just been restored in 2015 and was in great shape. When you pass through the Niomon gate, you will see the three-storied pagoda in front of you. The three-storied pagoda was built in the early Edo period and is approximately 30 meters high. To the left of the three-storied pagoda is a sutra. The sutra storehouse was restored in 2018 and is designated as an important cultural property. The sutra storehouse contains valuable Buddhist cultural properties such as national treasures and important cultural properties.
After touring the three-storied pagoda and sutra, we headed to the main hall. The main hall was built in the middle of the Edo period and is designated as an important cultural property. In the main hall, you can see Buddhist statues such as the principal image, Fudo Myoo, and the side attendants, Bishamonten and Tamonten. Fudo Myoo is a hidden Buddha, so it is not open to the public, but you can see it on special occasions such as special viewings and opening ceremonies.
A short walk from the main hall is a garden designated as a national scenic spot. The garden was created in the late Edo period and is a stroll-style garden with a pond. Ikeizumi Kaiyushiki is a garden with a walking path around a pond, and is a typical Japanese garden style. The garden is decorated with waterside plants and stone lanterns, allowing you to enjoy the seasonal atmosphere. In particular, cherry blossoms and azaleas bloom in spring, and autumn leaves turn beautiful colors in autumn. I took a leisurely stroll through the garden and was soothed by the beauty of nature.
At the back of the garden, there are buildings and statues related to the story of the spirit dog Hayataro. The legend of the spirit dog Hayataro is that the dog Hayataro, owned by Nichio Shonin, the chief priest of Kozenji Temple, protected Nichio even after he was killed by an evil person. Based on this legend, the sacred dog Hayataro Festival is held every year on May 5th at Kozenji Temple. During this festival, a memorial service is held in front of Hayataro’s grave, and a float decorated with Hayataro’s statue is pulled. I looked at Sotaro’s grave and statue and thought about him.
Motorcycle parking information
After sightseeing at Kozenji Temple, I returned to the place where I had parked my bike. For motorcycle parking, we decided to rent the parking lot of a souvenir shop near the entrance of Kozenji Temple. It was free, but we asked them to park it in the corner of the parking lot so as not to disturb other users. From the parking lot, you can immediately access National Route 153.
This time, we reported on a trip to touring spots in Nagano Prefecture on Harley-Davidson’s FLSB Sport Glide. Nagano Prefecture has a variety of attractions including nature, culture, and food. Kozenji Temple in particular is full of history, legends, gardens, and other attractions. If you have a chance to go touring in Nagano Prefecture, be sure to stop by Kozenji Temple. See you in the next article.