The season is slowly but gloriously changing to Autumn in Japan.  The deciduous trees are turning scarlet and vermillion, and are beginning to overshadow the pines.

Three weeks ago I went to Natadera, a Buddhist temple complex in the south of Ishikawa, which is one of the best places to experience the Autumn colours in the prefecture.  It was still a little early though as the first few leaves were only just starting to turn.

It rained continuously all day so it was probably not the most spectacular time to visit it.

I liked the rain though.  Japan has the most amazing moss, it’s everywhere, growing amongst the grass, clinging to trees and to the craggy rocks that are scattered everywhere.  The grey light on a rainy day makes it seem so green, and the wet air smells of soil and vegetation.  I’m glad I had my wellies.

Natadera is a park nestled into the foot of the mountains, containing both Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.  It has its origins in the 8th C, but like most places in Japan, it suffered destruction many times throughout its history.  It was built to its present form in the 17th C by the Maeda clan, although it was restored in the 20th C.

I’m very ignorant as to the religious meanings and nuances of the place, but I really did get a sense of the religious tradition there.  Catholicism has churches and shrines, and even though an unfamiliar visitor mightn’t believe or understand the significance, they can surely feel the weight of history and faith around it.

Rock carved with a haiku composed by the 17th C poet Basho after visiting Natadera

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