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Yamanashi Museum of Local History and Kai Zenkōji Temple


Today was an exhilarating excursion day for our Intensive Japanese group! Our first stop was at the 山梨県庁別館 (Yamanashi Museum of Local History), where our knowledgeable guide took us on a captivating journey through the history of the train lines in Yamanashi. We learned about the dedicated individuals who played key roles in constructing these railway systems and the remarkable story behind their development.


Continuing our adventure, we made our way to 甲斐善光寺 (Kai Zenkōji Temple). Here, we had a unique and awe-inspiring experience. We gathered in the temple's sacred space and clapped our hands to hear the resounding "Dragon roar" that echoes throughout the temple. It is believed that this roar serves as a protective force for the temple.



As we explored further, we came across captivating artwork depicting the afterlife. Our guide shared stories about the path to heaven and hell, where it is believed that souls must traverse a river. The river is deep for those who have committed wrongdoings and shallow for those who have led virtuous lives. If your clothes become wet after crossing the river, it signifies the depth of your sins, and you are destined to go to hell to atone for them. After undergoing sufficient suffering, you can then ascend to heaven.


Inside the temple, there is a revered image of Buddha that is concealed from regular view, and adorned with beautiful cloth coverings. We went behind the stage, where a hidden entrance led to a dark corridor beneath the image of Buddha. In this pitch-black passage, devoid of any light, we embarked on a quest to find and touch a lock believed to be a part of Buddha's heart, delicately attached to the image by a thin string. It is said that finding and touching this lock brings luck and protection.


This excursion day offered us an immersive experience of the rich history and spiritual traditions of Yamanashi. We left with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the cultural significance of the train lines and the profound beliefs associated with Kai Zenkōji Temple.

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