The first temple I visited in Onomichi was Saihoji. It was a very nice temple and a tough initiation to seeing all of the temples in Onomichi. The adventure itself was a lot of fun and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The views were also amazing and I can’t wait to go back there and just explore things even more as I’m sure I could discover even more.
Getting to Saihoji is a little difficult. Since most of the hotels are on the south side of the train tracks, you have to find a way to get across. My hotel was located west of the station so I ended up walking to the station and continuing a little east to the first crossing I could find. From there you just follow the road back to the station and keep going. The road is not very big and cars do pass occasionally. It isn’t too busy so you don’t have to worry too much about getting hit by cars.
On my way to Saihoji, I got completely lost. I passed a sake brewery, and leave it to me to just stumble upon one right before I got lost. Once you see the Miyamoto Dental Clinic on your right, you have to turn right to head to Saihoji. I didn’t know this and kept walking straight. There is a small path next to the parking lot and I just kept going. I was actually following my map to a different temple and knew it couldn’t have been the temple that I was looking for. Thankfully I found Saihoji and it was just up the street from the other temple.
Saihoji is not an easy temple to access, not just because the roads to get there are small, but because it is on the side of the mountain. You actually have to walk up a steep hill and then the stairs to get to the main building. The building is pretty standard but the cemetery on the mountainside behind the temple was amazing.
I didn’t have a lot of time to look around, and I do regret that I couldn’t fully explore the area, but I was able to go up a little into the cemetery. I sometimes feel strange going around the graves just to take photos. While I was there, I couldn’t help but think that it would be a great and quiet place to just have my body/soul rest for eternity. As I climbed up to where I thought the top of the cemetery was, I had to tell myself to stop and return to the temple or else I would never stop exploring.
Saihoji is wonderful for several reasons. The temple is quiet and there are very few people there, if anyone at all. On my visit, there wasn’t a single person there. The views from the cemetery are outstanding but you have to be careful as there aren’t a lot of railings to prevent you from falling off the side of the cliff. Did I mention that it was just wonderful to be there all by myself? I still can’t stop myself from remembering my time there.