Hinode-machi is a town surrounded by magnificent nature, such as the 902 m-high Mt. Hinode and the Shiraiwa waterfalls, known as the “rain prayer falls.” This tranquil town is home to numerous well preserved historical buildings, including Japanese-style houses built more than 130 years ago, warehouses dating from the late Edo period, and a mountain villa where a historical U.S.–Japan summit meeting was held. Let’s take a trip to a place where the passing of time can be keenly felt.
My trip starts at Myokengu Shrine, built in 685 AD during the Asuka period. At this time, there was active international exchange between Japan and Korea. This is reportedly why the shrine is in a Korean architectural style. The current shrine building is a reproduction built in 1987.
The principal image is of Myoken Bosatsu (bodhisattva), a god or Buddha believed to govern human destiny and facilitate favorable marriage matches.
Continuing on, I see the Rokuya Daibutsu, a Great Buddha image just completed in 2018. The Buddha was created by Entakuzan Hokoji Temple, which has stood on this land since 1478, as a prayer offering for the fallen souls of soldiers unable to return to their homeland and for victims of natural disasters.
The former chief priest Ryoshu Yasaka, who led the effort to build the Buddha, explained that in addition to promoting Buddhist teaching in the Nishitama area, the project’s goal was to enliven the local area by providing a focal point of interest. This is a place where teachings from the distant past encounter prayers of the people of today.
Tokyo Hinode Bukeyashiki (Samurai House) is an old private house built in 1881. Recently renovated, it is now rented out for BBQs and accommodation. It is also used as a set for filming TV series. I had the opportunity to dress up as a ninja and as a Japanese princess, which made me feel like a character in a Japanese period drama.
I tried out the ninja experience first. Merely wearing a ninja costume and being in this old house made me feel like I had slipped back through time.
Next, I learned how to handle a sword from a “ninja master.” Holding a heavy imitation sword was tough, and when I moved it around as instructed, I got slightly sweaty. Trying to maintain the correct posture without letting the body axis deviate is good body core training. You can also try throwing stars and blowing darts.