A great one-day outing last weekend – we took the Tarumi line from Ogaki and got off at Tanigumi Guchi. A 10-minute bus ride away is the Buddhist temple at Tanigumi. If you stay on the Tanigumi line it winds through some amazingly picturesque scenery to the historic Usuzumi cherry tree at Tarumi, according to T who went there last spring with some of her friends, but that trip will wait for another time… Today we’re headed for the autumn colours around Tanigumi, and it turns out to be a good choice.
From Ogaki you spend the first 30 min. or so going through a plain of persimmon trees – for which Ogaki is famous – then suddenly turn a corner, cross a bridge and you’re in a narrow gorge pushing through a forest, through a short tunnel and too soon you’re at Tanigumi Guchi. I was tempted to stay on the train for the scenery coming up, but T says no, today let’s see Tanigumi. OK out of the train and immediately you’re hit by the different smell – taste – of the fresh air. There’s a local bus waiting for us – the only passengers – and soon we’re at Tanigumi.
While T is looking around one of the dozens of shops on the street up to the temple’s main gate I’m standing outside in a sort of daze, just feeling happy to be there… This, apart from T’s wonderful existence, is why I’ve been in Japan all these years I feel, and that feeling is confirmed later in the temple itself. I’m not the only one to get these vibes from Tanigumi – this lady felt similarly in 2008, and a Japanese blog I happened upon today referred to it as a “power spot”. (Power Spots are another current boom that might be worth a mention one day.) Amazingly – to me anyway – is that I’d never heard of this place before today. Plenty of others have though – the big car parks with room for rows of tour buses tell of the crowds that must have come on Sunday. The “mon zen machi” street is lined with souvenir shops, cafes, restaurants, even a couple of “ryokan” hotels, and lots of stalls selling those Ogaki persimmons. Anyway, this Monday is nice and peaceful with just a handful of people.
The temple is gorgeous, even without the beautiful red maples and yellow ginkgo trees. Every direction you look you’re rewarded with beauty. There’s that special Japanese blurring of the boundary between the man-made structures and the natural world outside, so every fern and vine seems to be a part of the temple. We’re distracted by a sign that says “to the inner shrine”, so set out on a hike up to what looks like sunlit hillsides just above us. It turns out to be something like a one-hour trek, about 2Km at ~30° (it feels), and the inner sanctum isn’t that spectacular, nor are there any panoramic views. Ah well – it was good exercise. Get back around dusk, in time for almost the last bus back, pausing to buy some of those persimmons and a pile of mandarin oranges.
If you live in Nagoya this trip is still a good option for this weekend – the autumn colours should be even better if anything. Just watch the train timetable – the Tarumi line trains run only once an hour or so, so you want to time your arrival at Ogaki so you don’t have to wait over an hour as we did! Here’s the Tarumi line website and timetable. The JR service from Nagoya to Ogaki is pretty fast and frequent. Even if you miss the maples, the Tarumi line looks worth checking out some day. (Here’s the Tanigumi tourist website, in Japanese.)
Hi, John. It’s nice to see a post on my favorite temple in Japan. I think one reason it is so special is that it is not a ‘renewed’ temple. As you probably know, most of them are renewed every 20 years or so, but Tanigumi feels ancient and mysterious, partly because of the ancient buildings but partly because, as you point out, the melding of temple and nature. I love it there and try to visit whenever I see my son and his family who live in Gifu prefecture.
Hi Sarah, thanks for dropping in! Considering Tanigumi’s just down the road from Nagoya, where I’ve been living 36 years, it’s still a surprise to me that I’d never heard of it before. While there are some other very old temples (eg Horyuji in Nara), it’s true that Shinto shrines, especially, tend to be rebuilt regularly. The also beautiful Jakkoin in Inuyama, which we visited on Sunday, has relatively new buildings and this perhaps accounts for the lack of the special atmosphere of Tanigumi…
So your son lives in Gifu – we drive out to our country place in Gero-shi, at the southern end of the Hida region, most weekends. Is he anywhere in the area by any chance?
Beautiful. I’ve mentioned this before … it’s always been a dream of mine to visit japan. Your blog revives that – and give an insight to the beauty of japan. Thank you.
Sector11, I hope your dream comes true one day. Be sure to get in touch if you do come!
I doubt it will happen, too old and pensions don’t go up. But if a miracle happens, you’ll know when someone asks “Hey, where can I park my SR-11?” And of course if I can afford that trip; dinner and drinks are on us.
[…] We stay in Nagoya. On Monday, visit Tanigumi. […]
[…] too much snow again so we stay in Nagoya. On Monday we take the Tarumi line again and enjoy the snow from the train […]