While I was living in Kumamoto one of things I really wanted to do is visit the cave Musashi Miyamoto retired to after his last duel with Kojiro.
Musashi spent the last 5 years of his life at Reigando, a cave located on the western side of Mt Kinpo just outside of Kumamoto city.
Unganzenji was founded by a Chinese High Priest in the year 1351. It is the 14th temple of the 33 Kannon of Kyushu Pilgrimage. The 4 faced goddess Iwato Kannon is enshrined in the temple. Myth has it that a foreign trade ship crashed onto the shores and all was lost but 1000 years later the Iwato Kannon washed ashore and was enshrined in the cave. Reigando cave has been a popular meeting spot for poets, writers and Buddhist monks since the Heian Period.
From the temple you make your way down to the cave along a small pathway through a beautiful forest. Along the way you can see 500 small statues which represent to 500 disciples which have reached nirvana or enlightenment. These statues were all made by a wealthy merchant in 1779 which took him 25 years to complete. Over the years many have fallen apart due to earthquakes and typhoons but many are still standing intact and each facial expression is different. It is such a beautiful and interesting walk and then you are welcomed by Reigando, the cave which Musashi Miyamoto once inhabited. It is kinda surreal.
Please enjoy the photos.
Photos and text by Stuart