Sponsored by Oita Prefecture/Tourism Oita
In the first part of the Kunisaki peninsula tour, we saw a prestigious shrine at Usa Jingu and one of the oldest wooden temples in Japan at Fuki-ji. By now, you’ve finished your exclusive meal time experience in a small wooden cabin with a delightful old lady, who has no doubt spoiled you rotten and asked you all kinds of questions.
In the second part of our journey, we will make visits to Maki Oodo (a temple), Kumano Magibutsu (something rather special) and Futago-ji (a temple), for one of the most aesthetic and photogenic tours in Japan.
Maki Oodo (temple)
Maki Oodo should be on the ‘must visit’ list for any buddha figure enthusiast. The head temple contains 9 buddha statues, each of which are dubbed national cultural treasures.
The highlight of these is the bronze statue of Daiitoku Myoo, the god of war, on a water buffalo. This iconic figure has 6 heads, 6 feet, 6 hands and is the largest of its kind in the whole of Japan. Safe to say, it creates a huge visual impact with his angry face, sword, rod and daunting fire bird, and is definitely something worth seeing for yourself.
Kumano Magaibutsu (Buddha statues carved in a rock face)
This stop was definitely a highlight for me as it included two of my favourite things: climbing difficult rockery and being surrounded by nature. The steep 15 minute cliff climb is the hardest up-hill route on this bus tour adventure (so much so, that the tour guide didn’t join us for once), but I also think it is the most fun.
The two overwhelmingly large Buddhas, Fudo Myoo (8.07m) and Dainichi-nyori (6.82m) are carved into the rock face to create some amazingly striking imagery. The secluded and shaded atmosphere surrounding them gives the area a more spiritual feeling, making the journey to finding them seem like more of an exploration than a tour. The place is secluded, refreshing and peaceful, making for a perfect break from the traditional temple sites.
The tour finishes with a spectacular viewing of one of the most scenic spots in Oita, Futago-ji. This tendai Buddhist temple, established by Ninmon in 718, is located on the slopes of Mount Futago and is guarded by two of the largest and most iconic Nio statues in all of Kunisaki.
The charming, moss covered statues, stone walkway and cascading, green foliage makes this one of the most scenic spots in all of Oita. In a way, the calm and serine atmosphere is almost romantic in the way the sunlight breaks through the leaves along the leaf scattered paths. In fact, recently the temple has been drawing a much younger crowd, due to its supposed mystical and spiritual affects.
The end of the tour
The tour ends at around 3:30pm, at which time you can relax until your final destination has been reached. Traffic dependent, you can expect to arrive back in Beppu around an hour later.
If you delight in Buddhist culture, statutes, temples, shrines and scenic views, this tour is definitely for you. Some of these places are considerably difficult to find on your own and even if you do manage to locate them, finding a place to park may be difficult. With this bus tour, you have nothing to worry about. And, while the tour may be in Japanese, at most sites you can find a special wifi code which connects your phone to a wealth of information about that site.
Please check the website for more up-to-date ticket information: here