Monday, April 9, 2018

Monday, Apr 9th, Takamatsu, Japan


Today, we used eleven means of transportation.  We haven't been on bikes yet, but we've got two weeks left, so stay tuned.  All this for two hours at the Himeji Castle.

Before I tell you why Himeji Castle, how about our night as trainee Shinto followers?  First, something about Shinto Buddhism.

About the time that the chief proponent of the religion (Huiguo) was dying in China, a 31-year-old from Japan (Kukai -Kobe Daishi) sought him out and implored him to teach him all he could.  As followers of Shinto were being persecuted in China, the master declared Kukia his successor, and spent his last two months preparing him to take the movement to Japan.

I'm including this shot of some giant cedar trees in a grove nearby Kukai's main hall at the Kongobu-Ji Temple because one of the beliefs of Shinto is that spirits, deities, and gods dwell in everything.  In most every place we've been, followers of Shinto have emphasized nature, and they utilized these special places as transitions from the "ordinary" world to the "sacred" world.

So we stayed in a very well-landscaped, finely crafted, wooden structure that felt very much like an indoor campout.  Matted floors with sparse furniture in small bedrooms, communal bathrooms, and a large dining area.  Early morning prayers to the spirits, and intricately prepared organic food, were offerings to create the environment in us to undertake a calm meditative day.

The result is a society which spends a big part of their day paying attention to their actions, and asks for good fortune and the avoidance of impurity from spirits that daily surround them.

We took that charge into our adventure today, and many of us will try to build on it to improve our lives.  Arriving at the Himeji Castle , we ascended the 400 year-old, five-story "white egret (color and design)" beauty with lots of other visitors.  It's the most visited building in Japan, and has been featured in most of the Japanese historical movies you've seen.

Operating for centuries as a showcase of religious and feudal power, it projects a society which in many ways can still be found here.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on Monday, Apr 9th, Takamatsu, Japan.


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