Mitsuishiyama Kannon Temple – 三石山 観音寺

Chiba, April千葉 4月

Our next destination was Mitsuishiyama Kannon-ji, which was one hour drive away from Kasamori Kannon. When we arrived at the temple, it started to rain again, so Ishikawa held the umbrella like a true gentleman, and I took pictures from underneath it.

次に、笠森観音から車で約1時間の三石山 観音寺を目指しました。お寺に着いた時、また雨が降り始めました。石川さんが傘を持つと本物の紳士の様な出で立ちで、私は下方から写真を撮りました。

This temple is a famous power spot to pray for marriage, and it got its name from the three stones on the back of the building. The place was astonishing; the small temple looked like it was about to crush under the huge stones. The location is quite high, and in clear weather it’s possible to see Mt. Fuji.


Stone steps took us to the narrow pathway between the rocks, and to the highest peak, where is Okuno-in, the place people pray. It is customary to tie your handkerchief to the fence.


The temple and its rocks
Climb the stairs…
… go through a narrow path between rocks…
… and you will reach the highest point!
Okuno-in and the handkerchief fence

Mitsuishiyama Kannon-ji

1407 Kusagawara, Kimitsu, Chiba, 292-0525 Japan

三石山 観音寺

〒292-0525 千葉県君津市草川原1407


Kasamori Kannon Temple – 笠森観音笠森寺

Chiba, April千葉、4月

Ishikawa, another Jinpuu-colleague, took me for a hike one rainy Sunday; our first attraction was Kasamori Kannon. Surrounded by mountainous forests, this unique temple is a perfect place to visit for a nature lover like me.


Maybe because of the weather, there were only a few other visitors when we climbed the steep wooden staircase to Kannon-do. The hall is 16 metres from the ground, and on top of it opens a panoramic view to the forests above.


Near the temple gate is the sacred Kosazukenokusu; a crooked tree, which has a small hole in its trunk. It’s believed that when children go through the hole, they receive fortune, but if a woman crawls through it, she will get pregnant.The famous Japanese ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Hiroshige has captured this majestic temple to one of his prints.


The Kannon-do
The observation deck
The gate
The details of the gate
The sacred Kosazukenokusu

Kasamori Kannon

302 Kasamori, Chonan-machi, Chosei-gun, Chiba, 297-0125 Japan


〒297-0125 千葉県長生郡長南町笠森302

At the Temple – お寺にて

Chiba, March千葉 3月

This charming place was my ultimate dream-come-true work site! And not only for its serene beauty but also for our tea and lunch breaks; the treats provided by the head priest and restaurant Chao were an everyday joy for us.


The Fukujuin Temple had recently undergone massive changes: the old temple was now unoccupied and all the action was at the brand new buildings. Thus now was time to update the garden; we made several bamboo fences, planted hedgerows, and groomed the old pine trees of the yard.


Every day the head priest served us tea, and Ogiu, Ishikawa and I enjoyed it on the temple’s wooden steps. The place had a magical atmosphere; the old temple with its detailed wood carvings stood on a small hill under a giant cherry tree, stone statues guarded the garden buried with soft moss. Some days we could hear the owl’s cries from the bamboo grove.


Tea time
The old temple
The new temple
New fence and lawn
New fence and plants
The old temple’s garden
New fence and lawn
The rope details

Fukujuin Temple

694, Kawadocho, Chuo Ward, Chiba, 260-0802 Japan


2512, Oyumicho, Chuo Ward, Chiba, 260-0813, Japan


〒260-0802 千葉県千葉市中央区川戸町694


〒260-0813 千葉県千葉市中央区生実町2512

Working at Japanese gardening company – 日本の園芸会社での仕事

Chiba, March千葉 3月

Working at Jinpuu was hectic; we had several sites that needed the crew daily. The biggest and the most acute one was the Tokyo site. Our task was to plant 280 trees and some hedgerows to the yard of a gigantic apartment building complex, and the deadline was approaching fast. It was more disciplined work, and there were also a lot of other workers beside us and a foreman who supervised the site.


But luckily we had some smaller locations as well. Some days we planted bamboo at a private house’s entrance, cut trees or built bamboo fences. We made a brand new front lawn to one office’s headquarters’ yard, moved huge rocks from place to place, dug up big trees and carried them to some other location. 


My favourite workplace was Fukujuin Temple in Kawado Village. It was a tranquil space surrounded by a quiet neighborhood and thick bamboo grove, where I often could hear owl’s cry. We made several bamboo fences and planted rows of small box trees in their yard. 


I noticed that generally the common man respects gardeners; sometimes total stranger buys us coffees at the convenience store, passersby came to chat and occasionally even to lend a hand. Jinpuu staff were hard-boiled professionals, always ready to give 100 percent and still polite and humble. I learned a lot from them on a daily basis, they answered my endless questions and took care of me in so many ways.


I worked from Monday to Friday, but sometimes joined the crew on Saturdays too. Few times the rain was so heavy that Hiroto gave me a day off, but that was my privilege: everyone else worked. The work hours were from eight to twelve, and Tokyo’s rush hour could slow us down so that the journey back to Chiba took twice as long as in the morning.


At Jinpuu’s office
Yamamoto, Kikuchi and Ishikawa
The office’s garden
Kikuchi and Yamamoto at the Tokyo site
The trees waiting for planting
Planting the trees
Our crew from the left: young Sato, Endo, Ishikawa, me, Yamamoto and Hirata.
Yamamoto, Ishikawa, Kikuchi and Sato taking a break
Yamamoto making a bamboo fence at a private house’s garden
Ishikawa, Tsugiyama and Yamamoto digging a tree from the ground
Kikuchi and a tree covered with mikimaki
Making an underground support for the tree
Yamamoto at the Peace Park
Making a hedgerow: Kikuchi digging holes for the bushes
Kikuchi, Tsugiyama and Yamamoto finishing the hedgerow and fence
Ishikawa and the brand new bamboo fence at the Fukujuin temple


68-6 Shimoowadacho, Midori Ward, Chiba, 267-0052, Japan


〒267-0052 千葉県千葉市緑区下大和田町68番地6

The Golden Pavilion – 金閣寺

Kyoto, April京都、4月

We made a day trip to Kyoto with Otoosan and Chihiro. The drive took about an hour from Osaka, but it’s very easy to travel by train as well. The temple’s official name is Rokuon-ji, Deer Garden Temple, but a more popular name for it is Kinkaku-ji, The Golden Pavilion. Rokuon-ji and its magnificent strolling garden are one of Kyoto’s most admired spots, but luckily there were not too many people present.


The original temple built in 1397 has been destroyed by fire started by one of the temple’s acolytes. Japanese author Yukio Mishima’s novel The temple of the Golden Pavilion (1959) loosely follows the actual events. Kinkaku-ji was restored in 1955.


Our next attraction was Ryōan-ji, maybe the most famous rock garden of Japan. Kare-sansui, a dry garden, made from carefully combed gravel and stones, it’s more a view than an actual garden. Commonly the sand is a symbol for the water and the rocks its islands, although it’s not clear what this particular arrangement represents. It might be tigers crossing a stream or the abstract concept of infinity. Either way, kare-sansui can help to clear one’s head while practising meditation. This plain sight left us with a relaxed feeling.


Sosei Kiosk above the mirror pond
Gardeners at their work
Chihiro and Otoosan


1 Kinkakuji-cho Kita-ku, Kyoto, Japan


13, Ryoanji Goryonoshitacho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, 616-8001 Japan


〒603-8361 京都府京都市北区金閣寺町1


〒616-8001 京都府京都市右京区龍安寺御陵ノ下町13