This temple, located at the top of the mountain, is simply spectacular. It has gone through a generation or two of recent updates and expansions of the choruses of statues that line the paths to both old and newly updated temple buildings.
There is a giant stone eggplant that you are supposed to pass through in order to bring good luck. This is a newer addition to Upenji.
Surviving since the Kamakura Era, Upenji (othewise known as “Hovering Clouds Temple”) was a place for learning and meditation. Over the course of history, many buildings were lost, but many have been replaced as well. Upenji holds a special place in the 88 Buddhist Temple Pilgrimage as it is the temple of the highest elevation on the route. Upenji is 3060 feet above sea level, and you will feel it much cooler than many other places.
This site is really a photographers paradise, and I think that the few images I captured here do not do it justice. I hope, however, that it inspires you enough to make your own trek up here and to take the time with your own camera and your own perspective.
One thing that I particularly like about this temple is the very newness of many of the buildings. Coming from a background and culture where history and the past are venerated as holy in and of themselves, and with it a continual expectation of acquiescence to ones elders as infallible and all-knowing, it is a breath of fresh air to see the new integrated, and even taking over places where the old failed to maintain their position. Sometimes the new is much needed. Sometimes the old is out-dated, and ill suited to what is needed for the present. Not every time, but sometimes. Maybe Upenji, and these new temple buildings will serve that purpose, and provide the place to think, contemplate, and grow for many generations to come.
“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.”
– Henry David Thoreua, Walden