Of course you can see famous temples and shrines in Kyoto and Tokyo, but there are some lovely temples right here in Ishikawa, too. Over the Labor Thanksgiving weekend in later November, I went to Natadera 那谷寺 in Komatsu to see the changing fall colors (紅葉 kouyou). Judging by the photos in the pamphlet they gave me (available in Japanese or English), Natadera is beautiful in every season : cherry blossoms in the spring, maple leaves in mid-to-late November, snow in the winter. Even if you missed the 紅葉 (kouyou; let’s use this term because “changing fall leaves” is a mouthful) this year, a trip in the winter or summer would be equally lovely.
Natadera was founded in 717 CE (Nara Period) by Taichou. The three-storied pagoda is considered a national treasure. This also is one of Ishikawa’s many shrines/temples dedicated to Hakusan. For those of you interested in Buddhism, Natadera is the head shrine of the Koyasan Shingon sect of Esoteric Shingon Buddhism. Also, for you poetry lovers, the poet Basho visited this temple in 1689.
I have to admit that I get temple fatigue very easily, but Natadera is different enough from the temples I went to in Kyoto and Nara to keep me entertained. There’s a small garden and a few ponds, but the most interesting features are the shrines built into the rock face and the beautiful bridges and buildings opposite the shrines. The 紅葉kouyou was absolutely stunning in late November.
The crowning jewel of the temple complex is the giant statue of the Eleven-Headed Kannon (十一面千手観音), the goddess of mercy and the Bodhisattva of compassion. You can’t photograph the statue, but you can see the head on the official website and in this 2007 article in The Yomiuri Shimbun about the cleaning of the statue. Neither photo does the statue justice, though, but it will give you a small taste for now. When you enter the building that houses the statue, Kannon towers over you at 7.8 meters, her serene countenance painted a brilliant gold. (Warning: this statue may inspire you to use GRE words, too.) The statue is a truly awesome sight, and I felt as if I could have studied her expression for hours.
Leah Zoller is a first-year CIR in Anamizu and sometimes uses GRE words.
Coming from the Noto or Kanazawa area, take the Hokuriku Expressway （北陸自動車道）, then get on the 11 at津波倉東 intersection. It’s about 3 hours from the Noto and 1 hour from Kanazawa by car.
From Kaga, take the 8 to the 11. It’s about 30 minutes (according to Google maps.)
Go to the Kaga Onsen Station （加賀温泉鋭気） and take the CAN tourism bus キャンバス on the Mountain Loop （山まわり Yama-mawari）route and get off at那谷寺 (Natadera). It’s 1000 yen for one adult for one day; you can do other local sight-seeing on this pass.
Or, take a 20-minute taxi ride from Komatsu Station小松駅 or Kaga Onsen Station.
From Awazu Onsen粟津温泉, it’s a ten-minute walk.
923-0336 Ishikawa-ken, Komatsu-shi, Natamachi Yu 122
1 March – 30 November 8:30 – 16:45
1 December ～ 28 February 8:45 – 16:30