We started out with a trip to the upper temple. Here you can see the little cable car on its way down towards the station. Note the slope of the mountain, it doesn't look too crazy steep from this angle, right?
That is until you get on this sumbitch...
Felt like a 45 degree climb to me...
And here's baby #2 that I wanted to throw out of the cable car.
Beautiful views 360, it was probably the nicest day I've experienced thus far in Japan.
[Arnold] It's a TOOMAHH [/Arnold]
Hell, on second thought, it looks like it's more than 45 degrees in this picture. At this point we had all descended from the upper temple towards the lower temple, where most of the fun was happening. The upper temple was serene, but kinda boring =p
I decided to wander around this one temple for...well...not sure why. Anyways, I started to walk around the back of it, seeing if there was anything else cool to see. I step in through the back entrance, only to notice that I'm directly BEHIND all the monks doing their prayer ceremony thing! "OH SHIT!" I silently exclaimed. Needless to say, it only took a split second for a monk to spot me and escort me the fuck out of there. On my way out, a head-monk looking fellow leading some prayer was walking down the hallway where I had no business being. I stuck myself up against the nearest wall like sashimi on rice.
Next up was the tea ceremony. There were two rows of chairs, both covered by red cloth. You started out by sitting on the rear rows. The kimono'd ladies would then come by and hand you the little cherry blossum pastry seen below:
This cherry blossom pastry:
After you ate that, you advanced to the first row of red cloth-covered benches. Here you were served green tea in a bowl. The Japanese like their green tea STRONG. Like holy-shit strong, strong.
Minobusan Kuonji Temple is well known for its abundance of cherry blossoms, but I guess it was still cold out, those pretty little flowers weren't feeling it, at least not in full effect. Some were in partial bloom. Example A.
Say hello to the temple's 420 year old weeping cherry blossom tree. BLOOM DAMNIT BLOOM.
The roof of this building reminded me of sushi for some odd reason.
I was gonna turn these two pictures into 3d images, but I think the angle of separation was too great =p That and I took the picture too far away to realize the unique shape of the flowers. Sorry! They were teency weency cup-shaped little flowers. Very pretty.
Ok, so the halls of the sushi-roofed building were lined with these. If heading to temples with mom has taught me anything, these are all reservations for dead people. Reservations in the sense that all the people that have purchased a "plot" at this specific temple will be served in the afterlife. The monks will typically pray/burn whatever is necessary for them to live a comfortable life in the afterlife. I only have one picture, but there were MANY halls that looked just like this one.
OH HAI! This was gonna be the starting picture for a stop-frame animation, but none of the other pictures worked out because of the fluorescent lights set right atop each picture. All the cool pieces of art were washed out by the too high an exposure.
You're looking down at 287 steps here. Not 287 normal-sized steps. Each one of these steps is about 2-3 inches higher than your modernized stair step. This picture was taken at 1047am. The bus was planning to leave at 1100, so I knew that I had to get the eff down there if I was going to attempt making it back to the bus on time. My hands are getting sweaty just thinking about this stupid stair climb =p
Note, from the picture above, I don't think you could even see this second half of the descent.
Ok, about a minute later of going down all the stairs, here's the bottom. Going DOWN the stairs was a little tiring. But it really didn't seem like it was gonna be that bad from what I saw going downhill.
Until I decided to look up at what I had just descended. You can't even see 3/4 of the rest of the stairs, that's how steep it is. That guy up there, if he were able to speak english, I'm pretty sure "fuck me," would have been very appropriate.
Whew, fuck me. 1/4 of the way done. I think that's the top. At least I was hoping.
About 7 minutes later I made it all the way to the top. By then I had taken off my peacoat, my scarf, and I was sweating like a mothereffer through my tank top and my thermal undershirt. This is from someone who rarely ever sweats. AND considering I've been diligently working out my legs through these past 5 weeks, the climb still kicked my ass.
Still, totally worth it =p