Sunday, 20 April 2014

Temple 71-Iyadaniji; Temple 72-Mandaraji; Temple 73-Shusshakaji; Temple 74-Koyamaji; Temple 75-Zentsuji;Temple 76-Konzoji

Today the plan is to try and do five temples and stay at temple 75.
Had good night sleep in the Motodai Business Hotel last night. The forecast is for rain, so we will see if it is full rain gear rain or just umbrella rain.
Doing my Temple research this morning it says Temple 71 is attributed to miracle cures, as can be seen by the number of crutches and other paraphernalia left there.  Temple 75-along with Kongobuji on Mount Koyasan and Toji temple in Kyoto, it is one of the three most important sites related to Kukai. It has a large temple grounds, so since I am staying there tonight, hopefully, I will have some extra time to explore it. It says the Kaidan-meguri is s 90 meter path under the Main Hall which must be walked in total darkness. I hope to give it a try.
The theme for today would have to be steps and lots of steps. The day started with breakfast at McDonald's. What the heck, it was close by and the sign said open 24 hours in English. So, I headed over around 6:30 am and there was only me and two other people. What I like about them is they have a plastic card on the order counter and you can just point at what you want. It was nice to relax and listen to English songs playing for a change. Made me a little homesick.
It was cloudy and started to rain lightly on the way to Temple 71. However, tried to get by with just my cherry blossom umbrella. Once you entered thru the gate of temple 71, you entered into the world of steps. I started to count them, but then lost count. Up and up you went. At one point, I thought, don't look up, just look for the next step and when you hit the landing you will be pleasantly surprised.
At the top (or what I thought was the top) you had to take off your shoes and got to go in the temple, built in the side of a cliff. It was wonderful and very beautiful inside. In the back was a second temple. At one point I saw a nun come in with another person and saw where you could go back and see the Buddha statue up close. They went back there, and thought, why can't I, so I followed suit. After I did my routine, since the stamp office, was right there, I got my book stamped. I thought I was finished.
I wasn't. Once back outside, I saw some people coming from the left path. I went to explore. There was a whole world of temples and shrines up many more stairs. I found the Bell Tower I was looking for earlier to ring, but since I was finished with my routine, I didn't ring it, as it is bad luck to ring it afterwards. When I climbed to the very top, I found the Kobo Daishi Hall, so I decided to do the routine there as well. The view was spectacular and would have been better if it were not for the clouds and rain.
I could have easily spent a day or half day there on a nice day. I enjoyed the temple very much. There were lots of steps leading to different shrines, caves and statues carved out of the mountain. Kukai was happy to be back in the mountains. On the way up to temple 71, I saw another sign pointing the way to temples 72 and 73, so I made note of it and made sure I headed that way, verses a trail , that took you a way off from where I was going, to a Bangai, which are 20 other sacred temples where you can get a Bangai book stamped (which I learned when walking with David). I didn't need to get lost again.
So, as I started down the mountain, I thought I would follow another Japanese ohenro. All of a sudden we came to a granite marker with a hand pointing the way. He said something in Japanese and I tried to tell him this is the path to the Bangai by my maps. The sign I saw is down, outside the gate. He didn't listen. Things got lost in the translation or my poor attempt to translate. I thought, I am following my route guide to a T, so I don't get lost.
Sure enough, when I arrived at Temple 72, he appeared 10 minutes after me and seemed to be talking to other Japanese ohenros about going the wrong way.
I asked other ohenros if they were all going to temple 73 next. Again couldn't figure out what they were saying. To get to temple 73 looks like a hike up a hill and back to temple72. Anyway I asked my other previous lost ohenro, if I could follow him. Outside temple 72 was a big map in Japanese. I stopped him and showed him we are at temple 72 and need to go up to get to temple 73. He said no, we are at temple 73 now. Ooops, must have followed the signs wrong. How did that happen. I checked my stamp book and sure enough temple 72 stamp was still missing. I asked if he could show me where temple 72 is, since we have to pass it to get to temple74. I must have missed it somehow.
Sure enough, he pointed it to me, on our way by and I made the diversion to complete it.
I then continued on to temple 74 following the route guide. Just glad the rain is holding off for the most part. Cherry blossom umbrella is working fine.
At temple 74, I brought a small statue of Kukai and marked on it , with a black marker, dad's name and placed it with all the rest, in his memory. This is what I could best figure out you could do, as I couldn't understand the Japanese.
Temple 75 is huge and looks like a training grounds for monks. The reason I say this, is on three occasions I saw 4 young monks marching in line. They would all stop on their way somewhere and bow together at Halls or statues. During supper, they came in and walking in formation went to a separate eating room.
Since I was too early for check-in to stay at the temple, I decided to walk to temple 76 and back. When I got back around 3:30 pm, I asked where the temple accommodations are. It is so nice when you enter the accommodations, that they see you are a foreigner and ask are you Mr Smith. I say yes and I am off to the races. They are expecting me. Now just have to find my labels, with my name and address in Japanese, which helps with filling out the registration form. I was able to pay right away, which helps to get the payment out of the way. Sometimes they ask for a copy of my passport. They are well organized and have an info sheet in English and Japanese explaining meal times, bath times, lights out at 9 pm and breakfast is after morning chanting at 6 am, which you are expected to attend. Will be interesting to see if the four trainees show up for morning chanting.
When I got back from temple 76, I stopped at the Main Hall where the priest was chanting. I asked the lady if I could sit and listen and got a "dozo", so sat in one of the chairs. The Buddha statue was huge and very beautiful. I recognized when he started the Heart Sutra and chanted along with the lady next to me. He did it three time, as I could best figure. I enjoyed the positive energy that I felt was all around me.
When I checked in, I studied how they had written my name in kanji. Sure enough there was a similar sign at a supper place setting for me. No sashimi. I think they had a vegetarian substitute since there is no meat or fish usually served at temples. I got to kind of chat with the people I ate with. One lady I had seen off and on all day, while walking, made an origami chopstick holder for me. They were impressed I could use chopsticks so well. I know the two serving ladies were watching to see if the foreigner liked (or could eat) the food. At the end, every plate was bare. Not sure, mind you, what some of it was, but it was tasty.
I said my "goshesosumadisda" and gave each of the serving ladies a Canadian pin and they were very surprised and happy. At supper, I was asked why I was doing the pilgrimage and if I was doing the entire 88 ohenro. I said yes, and gave them one of my osame-fuda nameslips with in memory of my father, I printed on the back. It has made it easier by making them up beforehand. One guy could read it says I am from Ottawa Canada.
I would recommend staying at Temple 75 as it is very comfortable. There is no TV in the room, but I don't need one, as I can't understand Japanese too well anyway, and can only take so much of the same pictures, over and over, of the ferry sinking in Korea. Instead, I work on documenting the many photos I am taking and writing my blog. Usually, I am asleep on my futon by 9 pm.
One of the topics at supper was how a person does the pilgrimage. Many, I am finding, do it as "kugiriuchi" where they can only do so much at a time (usually because can only get so much time off work). They pick up each time where they leave off. When I tell them I am doing it as "toshiuchi", which is the whole pilgrimage at one time, they are impressed.
The following are the pictures from today:
Picture 1: Gate of Temple 71
Picture 2: Temple 73
Picture 3: Temple 72
Picture 4: Statue at Temple 72 I liked.
Picture 5: Dragon water spout I really liked and found unique at Temple 72.
Picture 6: Gate at Temple 74.
Picture 7: Temple 76
Picture 8:  Main Buddha Hall at Temple 75
Picture 9:  Pagoda Temple 75

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