In a quiet residential area a few minutes' walk south-eastish of Odawara castle, there's a cluster of six or seven charming, intimate Buddhist temples, all with their own points of interest. Even if you're not a fan of religion or history, it's a nice place to escape the crowds and see Japanese people going about their daily lives.
Rensho-ji has a restful atmosphere, a graveyard at the rear with ancient, weathered gravestones, and a number of serene Buddhist statues dotted around the carefully tended grounds. The thing I enjoyed most was the wooden carvings under the eaves of the simple, handsome main hall. The beams are decorated with elaborate patterns, there are turtles in the sea under the joints, and where other temples often have a dragon, the main carving here is a little diorama, a landscape planted with trees and shrubs, and a devotee or disciple at prayer, his robes billowing behind him as if blown by a strong wind.
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I came to Japan from Manchester, England in summer 2003, and have travelled a lot since then, around Japan and in Asia. When I`m not working I write satire at www.iothern.blogspot.com and perform stand-up comedy in and around Tokyo. Check my youtube channel `CunningPunster` for a taste.