“Could I meet you from now?” Ko-san said that cheerfully when I answered the phone. He was supposed to come to Nagoya with his friend from Tokyo and to meet me in the evening with another friend of us that day. So, I asked, “Aren’t we meeting tonight? Where are you now?” He replied, “Now I’m at Toganji Temple in Motoyama with my friend. After seeing the temple, we’re going to Goshikien. I wonder if you can join us.”
“Goshikien?!” I shouted to the phone in amazement. I think tourists usually go to neither Toganji Temple nor Goshiken when they visit Nagoya. Especially not to Goshiken. “I can pick you up because I’ve rented a car,” he said. “Okay. Call me when you leave the temple.” I hung up the phone and started preparation for leaving home, thinking, “What strange places they chose to visit!”
Ko-san came with his friend Tomo-pu to my neighborhood. It was my first time to meet her, but we felt comfortable with each other and became friends soon. Before visiting Goshikein, we went to Komeda, a famous store chain café in Nagoya, and had two of the local specialties and one of the café’s original menus: Ogura–Tōst (sweet bean paste and toast), Miso-Katsu-Sando (pork cutlet with miso dressing sandwich), and Shiro-Noir (hot Danish pastry and ice cream). Those foods were very nice. Why don’t you try them if you come to Nagoya?
After the pleasant lunch time, we went to Goshikien. Yasugon, a mutual friend of Ko-san and I, also joined us in the middle of the tour. Reading this far, most of the readers might be thinking, “So, what’s Goshiken?” Goshikien is a kind of theme park. But it’s not a usual one. The theme is Buddhism. But the place has few Buddha’s images. Instead, there are nearly 100 statues of people and monsters in more than 65 hectares of land. I’ve never seen all of the statues because the place is too big.
This theme park was established by Daianji Temple on its property in 1938 to enlighten people on Buddhism. It represents with huge concrete dolls the life of Shinran, who was a Japanese Buddhist monk in the 13th century and the founder of a sect Jodo Shinshu. Those statues were made based on some famous episodes in Shinran’s life by a local artist Shoun Asano. In spite of its amazing grander and its large scale plan, few people visit there. So, if you go to the place alone in poor weather, you might be a little scared. But the two people from Tokyo seemed to enjoy the place. Good!
I always just look at some of the statues whenever I visit there. But it may be interesting to follow the story of Shinran as appreciating the big dolls. Maybe I’ll try to visit the park with MANY of my friends in GOOD weather and to find all of the statues someday.