Temple #3 of the Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage is the Tendai mountain temple of Gakuenji, a place I have visited many times and still one of my favorite temples. earlier posts can be found here.
To my great surprise there was for the first time an entrance fee!!!!.... that included a cup of green tea, and once I got over my initial shock I decided that maybe its a good idea. With no parish to provide funerary expenses the temple needs funds to maintain the buildings.
When i first came here many years ago there was a wonderful thatched-roof nunnery. Without maintenance it collapsed and was torn down. Maybe with the income from the thousands who come here in the Fall for the colors and the increasing number of pilgrims who come here can provide some protection for the place.
Before I left the young priest gave me a pamphlet of the Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage. It has a nice map and details of each of the temples, and most useful the temple names are written with furigana so they can be easily read. Gakuen-ji is also part of the Chugoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage, so I will be back here again when i walk that in 2014.
The Chugoku Nature Trail runs through the temple, and while car pilgrims have to drive back down the mountain and around I can take the trail straight up and over the mountains....