|An early morning departure from Hiroshima took us by express train, then local train, then mini-bus to the Tennenji Temple in Kyusa. The temple was built in 710 and is both a Buddhist Temple and a Shinto Shrine. The figures carved in the rock at the river are called Kawanakafudoson and they are guarding the approach to the temple.
It was particularly nice driving through the countryside on Kyushu Island away from the very large population centers that we've been visiting. The rolling hills and mountains are lush with trees and heavy bamboo forests. Roads are narrow and there is little traffic as we drove through farming areas with rice paddies that were originally farmed over 1000 years ago.
We stopped for lunch in a small farm community where local women who are retired and now farm full time prepared and served a wonderful meal. After a brief discussion where everyone introduced themselves the women lead us in a traditional Japanese folk dance. The community is declining as are many rural towns in Japan and the local elementary school has closed due to lack of students. The shrinking population along with urbanization and increasing number of elderly are serious problems for Japan.
An hours drive through the countryside took us to Yufuin and our hotel, a Japanese style inn nestled in valley below Mt. Fuku-dake.