Is it your dream to teach English in Japan?
One weekend, we hiked around Kora Mountain, and after a couple hours, we saw a map/sign and the path to a big shrine: Korataisha (高良大社). It was a bit far so we saved it for another day. It isn’t so far that we can’t go anytime we have a few hours free. If you’re in the Kurume area, Korataisha is closest to Mii Station, on the east side of town, although not really close to anything. It seems like most people drive there to avoid hiking up the hill.
Golden week is in late April-early May in Japan, where four national holidays fall in the same week. A lot of offices and schools are closed for a whole week, but most are closed at least on the holidays. First we have Showa Day, followed by Constitution Day, Greenery Day, and Childrens Day. The weather is usually great and everyone gets out of town or at least spends more time outside while they can.
During the holiday week, we went back to check out this shrine on Korasan (高良山 こうらさん), which sounds a bit like croissant(クロワッサン) in Japanese and makes me laugh. Okay, maybe they don’t sound so similar… but a little similar.
The walk to the entrance is a quiet neighborhood with several abandoned houses. These make me sad, because they’re decomposing and wasted, but somehow beautiful. Plants eventually take over and crumble the houses. In growing areas, the land will be cleaned up and a new house will be built, but this area isn’t very popular.
Saw this tiny temple with some seating outside. Maybe it’s a little space to be social with the neighbors and enjoy the sun.
There’s a pond with koi below the entrance to Korataisha and it’s well maintained but no one was around. The koi seem used to people feeding them, but we didn’t bring anything for them. Spotted a crane hanging out doing yoga there.
Then at the entrance of the trail, there’s a big tori. This is the telltale landmark for the entrance of a shrine.
After a while, there was a short detour to check out a mini-shrine/place to pray off the path. We were just curious, and saw it was a popular place for couples to pray. How romantic, we thought, and wondered why. There are two small trees growing close to each other, and apparently they decided to ‘hold hands’ and become one.
Interesting, sure, but we thought they were probably just business partners and merely shaking hands. As we had nothing to pray about, we held hands too while looking for a minute.
Back to the trail. The uphill steps… the hydrangea garden, not yet blooming, we’ll have to come back in a few weeks to see that, we thought.
We didn’t keep track of time, but from the entrance to the shrine took around an hour. At the top, there was a nice view of the (smoggy) city. But, my legs were shaky and I felt so out of shape, haha. As usual around shrines, there are lots and lots of steps.
There is a viewing area where we can see the river & point out some landmarks we know. In addition to the honden (main shrine) there was some construction going on behind it and some other small buildings.
At first I thought there was a vending machine for omikuji (omen/fortunes), but it’s more like an honor system machine.
On the way down it probably took less than a half hour, even with a detour through the hydrangea garden. A nice hike, which clearly I should do more often, as my legs were sore for a couple days after this. We’ll be going again soon to hopefully see the hydrangea garden in bloom.