Spread over more than 230 square meters of lush vegetation, Natadera Temple is a must-see spot in late fall, when it springs to life with hues of red, orange and yellow. According to historical records, even famed Matsuo Basho, perhaps the most celebrated poet of the Edo Period (1603-1868), once strolled the grounds to take in the autumn views.
One of the temple's most beautiful sights is the large rocky outcrop near the main entrance. The result of ancient volcanic eruptions and tidal erosion, the distinctive marks and hollows in the rock are a stunning sight; it's hard to believe they were formed by nature. Today, they are filled with miniature statues, a nod to the rock's holy status. It resembles the sacred land of Mount Hodaraka and is believed to be enchanted. When surrounded by fall foliage, this designated place of scenic beauty becomes particularly special.
With 1,300 years of history, Natadera Temple has many points of interest. Its principal deity, the 11-headed, 1,000-handed Kannon is enshrined in Kondo Keo-den, the main building. Paths crisscross from there across the entire grounds, each leading to a great scenic find.
Crossing under the torii gate and heading up the stone steps, you'll reach the three-storied pagoda, an important cultural property with its fan-shaped rafters and pretty images of Chinese lions and chrysanthemums carved on its doors and walls. A little further uphill, you'll cross Fugetsu bridge while looking out for the lucky monkey statue along the way.
Past the bridge lies the Chinjudo observation platform, which provides breathtaking views of autumn's colors as well as an old Inari shrine on the rocky outcrop. This Shinto site is home to the gods of harvest, an important place for worship each season, and in fall, its vermilion torii become resplendent against the ground's russet hues.
Natadera Temple is one of the best places in Ishikawa Prefecture to take in iconic autumnal scenery but, thanks to its off-the-beaten-track location, you can avoid the crowds. Why don't you visit and use the hashtag #HOKURIKUxTOKYO for your social media posts?
This trip was supported by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, however, all views are my own.
Take the bus bound for Natadera Temple from JR Komatsu Station or take the Canbus from JR Kaga Onsen Station and get off at Natadera Temple (25-minute ride).