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Gyokukeiji 玉桂寺, Japan

Getting there:
Take the Shigaraki Kogen Railway and get down at Gyokukeijimae (玉桂寺前). After that, you would notice a small metal gate on your left. It might look like it’s closed, but its open 24/7. Enter there and pass the suspension bridge. The temple should be on your left after the suspension bridge. It would take around 10 minutes to reach the temple from the station.

Hours and Costs: Free (a small donation would be helpful). Open 7am – 5pm daily.

Information: I don’t know much about the temple because there weren’t any information in English. All I know is that this is one of the bigger temples in the Shigaraki area.

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My experience:

If I had to choose my favourite temple in the whole of Japan, this would be it. It’s really quiet and well-maintained. When I visited Gyokukeiji, I was the only person there, aside from the 2 buddhist monks that lived there.

 The temple is very very big and you can easily spend up to 2 hours here, or maybe if you’re like me, you would spend around 3.5 hours here. Aside from the normal temple-y stuff, the temple has a path that leads up the mountain. It’s like a loop around the mountains surrounding the temple, you’ll eventually come out in the far left of the temple. The route is known as ‘the path of 88 souls’ – the whole path is filled with statues of buddha and offerings. (Not sure if they really have 88 buddhas, but it felt like there were more than 88). The trail is a very tiring uphill hike that’s covered with spider webs.
If you can get pass the spider webs, the trail is just perfect. It gives off a feel like those of an ‘old japanese pilgrimage route’, with small shrines and statues along the whole route. It gave me the space to stop thinking and just enjoy the moment. Absolutely ZENIFYING.

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