Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Several weeks ago, when Spring here was just budding, Christina took me to see some of the sights she had been shown by friends.  It was a long day of biking but it was nice to see more of the city I am living in.  And I have lots of pictures!
  Among the sights was the first Jesuit founded church in Japan, St. Francis Xavier Cathedral.  Getting there was a bit of an adventure.  We biked to the right street and went down it.  We however missed the turn off and went too far.  Eventually we found a map and righted ourselves.  It didn't take too long and 'twas only a little uphill.  The final journey to the church must be made on foot.
The pond at the top
The first set of steps.
The front of the church

The Church sits on one end and houses a museum in the basement.  I've not been to the museum, and I doubt I will be anytime soon.  I went in the church a few weeks later when I came back with my parents.   I never took any pictures.  But suffice to say the architecture and interior is very much the same as any Roman Catholic church I've seen.  Across from the church is a plateau with a small garden at the top.  There were several cherry blossom trees that weren't yet blooming.  A winding path, another statue of Francis Xavier, a plaque with Portuguese on it and pretty little pond.  To get to the top was two flights of pretty stone steps.

The Pagoda
After we saw the church we went to the Pagoda  and it's surrounding park.   Around the pagoda there were winding paths filled with, at the time, barren cherry blossom trees.  When I returned to the park after the Tohoku earthquake, you were able to come in close to the Pagoda and look at the altar if you donated.  I didn't, but it was a beautiful site.  The altars exist on all four sides and traditionally depict stories from the life of the Buddha.  These were all decked out in gold and being closely guarded by volunteers.  Once again in this park there was a small pond.  but this pond was full of koi.  They have these fish everywhere here.  They will follow the vibrations of people walking along side the road or bridge in hopes of achieving noms.  By the playground a little bit away was the oddest drinking fountain I have ever seen.  Instead of having a basin, any extra water winds down the side into a drain in the floor (which is also helpful during intense rain).  It also sports two faucets, one upward stream for drinking and another downward like a kitchen tap.  However odd, I think it looks rather aesthetic compared to the barren cold ones of home.

The fishies!
The water fountain
Also by the Pagoda and park is another temple.  (They exist everywhere, including skinny teeny tiny back alleys).  The interesting thing about this shrine is that it was built to echo.  I presume it has to do with scary away bad spirits.  It is a fun few minutes of stamping ones feet on the stone pathway listening to the noise as it reverberates around you.  It's like finding that sweet spot in a staircase where when you clap your hands it comes back at you sounding like a synthesized beat.  That spot that every time you find it you want to just stand there giggling at the noise, which when you do you end up looking like a weirdo for doing so.  Not that I would know of such thing.

Entrance to the Buddhist temple
Finally afterwards, we went to a Buddhist Zen temple.  Gorgeous little place.  Of which I can't seem to find any of the pictures I took of the rock gardens.  But the interesting part here is that behind the temple if you are willing to climb a ton of stairs you can see some other temples in the forest.  Here there are different altars to different Buddhas.  Which are all the manifestations of Shinto dieties, or vice versa, or neither, depending upon whom you talk with about Buddhism and Shinto.  The altar(to the right) is housed in an all cedar traditional room at the very top of a long winding path of stairs.  Or rather, parts of stairs.

If I decide to make a trek full of stairs, I expect the stairs to be solid, and at first they were, and all of a sudden the turned to this:
Which are not stairs so much as is hard dirt held in place by bricks of cement.  Until you look closer and see that many of the cement pieces are broken.  Or the surrounding forest's roots have forced the rock to move.  What is the standard repair? Bamboo.  Sometimes the steps are standard height, sometimes shallow, or as high as my thigh.  By the end of this trek, my knee felt as though it was going to snap again.  Thank god it didn't.

Did I mention the stairs never ended?  Here are the pictures I took of them.  No two steps are taken of the same flight and  I gave up after about 1/5 of the way through.

If you want to see some more of Yamaguchi, here are two videos that one of the Professors here has done.  He's done a lot more, and the sites are interesting but a lot of what he says is conjecture, but interesting nonetheless.  These two are about The Xavier Church and the Pagoda respectively.


  1. stairs are evil. I am amazed you attempted them.

  2. AnonymousJune 03, 2011

    Yup, stairs everywhere. It seemed like that any historic building you wanted to see, i.e. castle, shrine, was always on some hill with stairs to climb up.
    Hey Marie, remember the temple that we saw at night with professor Leo? I am sure we climbed 1000 steps up that night :) Great view of the area of Yamaguchi - Dad

  3. Dad, maybe 100 steps to the temple. And technically we went past the mountain so we were in Hofu.