About half an hour from Fukuoka is Nanzo-in Temple. Nanzo-in Temple is the home of the reclining Buddha. I’ve been wanting to see it in person for a while and figured since we were in Fukuoka we should take the detour to go visit it. Even though I had looked online about this temple often, I didn’t know there was more to it than just the reclining Buddha. I also didn’t know it was halfway up a mountain. We had quite a few surprises waiting for us.
The first surprise was as soon as we parked, it started to snow slightly. It wasn’t forecasted to snow, so it was a nice surprise. As we left the parking lot to find the temple, Jeremy found a bridge that was part musical instrument. We couldn’t figure out to get it to play though, no matter how we struck the keys.
After crossing the street we noticed several shops and Buddhas around. The first store we decided to bypass the stores until after we visited the statue. As we counted walk up the mountain we noticed more and more Buddha statues and other little statues tucked into the woods.
Once we got up to a more leveled area we noticed two things. The first thing we noticed was there were Buddha statues everywhere. The second thing we noticed was the largest Maneki Neko statue we have ever seen.
As we watched the other visitors we noticed that instead of using the water at the base of the Buddha statues in one area to wash the hands, they would take the ladle and splash water on each of the Buddha statues before praying. Normally I partake in following what I see the visitors do and pray at temples and shrines because even though I was raised Christian and hold mostly Christian beliefs (I believe in God but I also believe other Gods and Goddesses exist and deserve respect), I feel it rude to not do pray to whoever watches over the shrine I’m visiting and thank you them for the opportunity to visit that shrine or temple. But here I felt like I might offend someone if I copied them in splashing the water so I just sat back to observe instead.
Across the courtyard area, there was another Buddha statue that I fell in love with. I really wish I knew more about Buddhism so I knew what it represented but this statue I really felt drawn to. I noticed to the left there was a set of shelves with food and drink offerings. I remembered I still had the cookie in my bag from the Christmas Market the night before. I put it on the shelf beside the rest of food.
Walking up a set of stairs beside this statue, we found another courtyard that was dominated by a huge, colorful statue. After doing some research I think his name is Fudo Mayo-o. He is supposed to be a protector who burns away a person’s impediments and defilements so that person can reach enlightenment. While we were admiring him, two older Japanese women started asking me questions in Japanese but I couldn’t understand them. I then realized they were trying to show me how to pray to him. I copied their movements and they seemed really happy. I told them thank you and bowed when we finished. I really appreciate when strangers take the time to teach me something new.
Further up the mountain we more statues in various sizes. Some were sitting alone and other clustered together in large groups that went up the sides of the mountain. Again, I wish I knew what they represented. I recognized some as Buddha and Fudo Mayo-o but I’m not sure of the others.
We followed the pathway up the mountain. As we turned a corner we were surprised to a cave with a waterfall. All around the cave and above it were statues of various sizes. I have never seen anything like this in person. It was incredible.
Across from the cave was a short tunnel going into the mountain. Jeremy and I decided to check it out. It was so short that Jeremy and I both had to stoop quite a bit to keep from hitting our head. At the end of the tunnel was a room.
After checking out the room we decide to head back down the mountain to find the reclining Buddha. Along the way, we found some other rooms with various Buddha statues. Each one seemed to have a different purpose but we weren’t sure what that purpose was.
As we followed the path up to the reclining Buddha, we saw more statues set up in the woods or along the pathway. At this point, I was stopping people and trying to ask them what they were but no one spoke English. I was enjoying everything but I really wanted to know what they were for. Even weeks later when I try to look up information, I can’t figure it out.
Finally, we came upon the reclining Buddha, it was more impressive than I imagined! It was massive! It is 41 meters (134.5 feet) long and 11 (36 feet) meters high. It was beautiful. It had a lot of the little statues I had been seeing around lining the stairs.
Remembering advice that Dacia had given us, Jeremy and I walked around to where Buddha’s feet were resting. She said that we needed to see the detail that went into them. I’m glad that she told us to do that because the designs on the feet were beautiful. There was a sign behind that explained the meaning of the symbols but unfortunately, Google Translate wasn’t working to translate it. Jeremy and I placed coins on the feet.
Before leaving the reclining Buddha we decided to buy some ice cream. While eating it we found a sign 10 feet from the ice cream stand that eating wasn’t allowed. Oops. We also found some sort of Maneki Neko game but the attendant didn’t speak English and was unable to explain how to play the game. We also found a giant set of prayer beads.
As we walked back to the car we decided to pop into one of the stores. We were greeted by an older Japanese woman. She offered us something hot to drink. I don’t know what it was but it was slightly spicy but delicious. Whatever it was made us not cold anymore. In fact, the whole walk back to the car we weren’t cold anymore. We tried talking to her for a bit before buying some items and heading back to the car.
We decided to head towards our hotel 1.5 hours away in Kitakyushu. I made reservations at Marine Terrace Beach Resort. I mainly booked here because it was near the kangaroo zoo we wanted to visit the next day and because it was cheap. Even though it was cheap, I was excited to stay there because our stay included dinner and breakfast for the few days we would be there (about $100 per night just for the room for two people and $140 for the room, breakfast, and dinner for two per night). Yay for traveling on a budget! The resort was really nice and the staff was really nice. Unfortunately, they had only one person who spoke English and he left an hour after we arrived. I’m guessing they don’t have many Americans staying with them because as soon as we walked in, they greeted us by name. That was a first and I loved it! The person checking us in let us pick our dinner times. We agreed that we would go to eat an hour after checking in because we wanted time to bring our stuff up and clean up some. Our hotel room was western style (they are Japanese style rooms available as well) with two beds, a small balcony, and a bathroom. The beds were extra firm but comfortable. Jeremy laughed at how big our keychain was for the room. The view from our balcony was gorgeous.
After cleaning up, we went down to the dining room for dinner. Since the price wasn’t expensive for dinner with our stay, I honestly wasn’t expecting much. When they sat us down at a table, there were a few dishes laid out at each seat. Even these few dishes were nicer than what I was expecting. Jeremy and I were excited to eat.
As we ate through our dishes, the waiter and waitress kept showing up and bringing us more dishes! Each time was a delightful surprise. The food was delicious and so fresh tasting. Even for someone like me who is picky about the fish I eat, I loved everything placed in front of me. By the time we finished our jello dessert, Jeremy and I were stuffed and giddy from all the food.
After dinner, we decided to go check out the onsens. Thankfully we both had them to our selves. It was a pleasant way to relax after such an adventurous day. The outside onsen was the most peaceful because I could lay in the hot water while listening to the waves crash on the beach below me. It was the perfect way to end the day.
You can book your reservation for this resort here.