A short walk from Urasa Station is a small temple complex. If you didn’t know it was there it would be easy to walk past it. Follow the sign for Bishamondo though and you are in for a treat.
The gate is an impressive structure that looms above you as you approach and has some imposing wooden guardians on either side. The carvings around the structure are also worth further attention.
A covered walkway leads to a fountain and on your right is the temple with its huge bell.
On March 3rd every year this temple is home to one of the strange winter festivals that take place in the region. Processions of men wearing loin cloths parade up the main street and through the temple gates. It is still winter and often bitterly cold. They head up the covered walkway to the fountain at the end and purify themselves with a dip in the icy waters. From there it is a quick dash to the main temple hall where a huge mass of men are trying to be the one to squeeze through a small gap into the inner sanctum. It is a steaming scrum of half naked men and quite a sight.
The festival itself is a great night out with food stalls on the street and temple lit by huge candles. It is one of the famous bizarre festival in Japan.