Senkoji is probably the biggest and most popular temple in Onomichi. It is located near the upper station of the ropeway but you can easily walk there from the base of the mountain. It isn’t a long walk and I would rather walk up than take the slow ropeway. Whichever way you do use to get to the top, Senkoji is a good place to enjoy but beware of the crowds at times.
Considering most of my trip in Onomichi was pretty quiet, when I got to Senkoji, it was a “madhouse” of people. Well, nowhere near as bad as Sensoji in Asakusa, but for Onomichi I’m sure they felt it was crazy. I started above near the ropeway station and walked along the Path of Literature. There is an interesting rock with a hammer on it but more on that another day. Once you walk down the main path you are at the main entrance to Senkoji.
There are 2 other approaches to Senkoji. If you walk from the bottom, you just head up the stairs and you are at the central area of the temple. The Path of Literature makes a circular path from the ropeway station to Senkoji and back again. If you head west from the station, it takes you to the main entrance. If you head east, you go through the woods and end up “behind” Senkoji. It is a little confusing if it is your first time, but it is actually more confusing to go out the “back” and head up through the forested area as you might feel you are breaking the rules.
I went to Senkoji from the main entrance and when I got there I was turned off by the gaggle of Chinese tourists that were having fun. I’m not sure what they were saying but I am sure that they were having a good time. I was a little heartbroken that it wasn’t as quiet as I had hoped it would be and just bore with it. Once they left, things were a lot better, aurally.
If you head to the left side of the central temple area (I know my descriptions are not always clear but if you go there you will understand it), you will see several rock cliffs. There seemed to be the men’s and the women’s section. There was also a chain that headed up the rock, but it appeared to have an entrance fee. The chain was supposed to be a ladder to let you get to the top of the rock but since I had my camera with me and other things, I just didn’t feel like exploring that area. I might go again when I have more confidence.
If you pass the central area, you come to the main area of the temple. You can’t really miss it if you head east through the temple. You go through some rocks and then you see the main temple. I saw a nice old lady there and got my Goshuincho stamped. It was the only place I got my Goshuincho stamped in Onomichi because all of the other temples were really quiet and I was too afraid to go in and ask for a stamp. I’m sure that if I was with someone who knew the system a lot better I could have gotten it done. I’m still happy to get at least one stamp done. The old lady was also very nice and really helpful for everyone.
I then headed to the lookout. The lookout is just past the temple “office” window and prayer area. If you get a Goshuin (stamp), it is good to get that started before heading to the lookout to enjoy the view. It does take a few minutes to get it done and they will hold it for you.
Once you finish there, it is off to the back to see some of the interesting statues behind the main building. It is a small path to get to the forested area of the Path of Literature and behind the building are some interesting Buddhist statues. It was fun to see and I do recommend taking the few seconds to enjoy it.
Senkoji may be a very busy temple but it is still worth a visit. There is a lot about this temple that is still a mystery to me and I still have to research it even more. It does give me an even greater reason to want to go back to Onomichi but I don’t know when that will be, if ever. If you do go, do be sure to check out all of the little things as you never know what you’ll find and you may find that you are even more enlightened than you could have expected.