Japan day 3
Japan day 3
I hope I’m not going to suffer some kind of Zen perdition. Being on the edge of a mountain forest, my sleep last night was constantly interrupted by animal activity: foraging wild boar and feral cats…to name but two. So I de-camped into the temple itself, and slept soundly on the tatami matting, under the gaze of Buddha himself. Well, at least he smiled at me throughout……. 🙂
A flat(ish) wind-assisted route with the sun shining….what more could a fella like me want? Well, something was definitely missing….the promised cherry blossom, no less. The temple garden of last night will be a riot of blossom….but in a few days time…you can imagine my frustration…..can’t you? I already have a history of planning trips and missing important features of nature (New England fall, Dutch bulb fields)….oh, Buddha, don’t punish me like this! I’m sorry for sleeping in your temple last night..
A visit to two important Shinto shrines on today’s route saw me fall into conversation with this group of lads…..
….they were trying to throw (with the non-dominant hand) little clay balls into a tiny wishing well down the ravine. If you succeed, any wish will be granted you. The one on the right shouted with each throw: Let me go to Cambridge University! Guess what happened with his throws? He missed by a long way. He was such a bright spark, I reckon Cambridge is losing out there.
Above is the Udo shrine, where I witnessed a special Shinto blessing given to a family. Extraordinary…..I mean, really extraordinary.
And then the Aoshima shrine, which is located on a tropical island, linked to the mainland by a causeway. There I met Antonio from Barcelona, on his third trip to Japan.
But time was pressing. I was planning to meet up with Masayuki
in Miyazaki…..(yep, I know, two names that are easily transposed….). Masayuki, formerly a High School principal, had brought a group of his pupils on a day visit to Kimbolton School back in 2006, in response to an exchange placement our Head of Geography, Simon Wilson, had fulfilled in his school.
Needless to say it was a delight to meet Masayuki. He treated me to an excellent Japanese meal,
sharing a couple of hours of fascinating conversation that ranged from the interpretation of Japanese kanji characters to why some 10% of the nation wear face masks.
The icing on the cake? He helped me find a free camping spot in the gardens of yet another Buddhist temple right in the centre of town….I wonder where all this is leading….?
So this morning, packing up my tent quietly at 6am, I was about to creep away when Tomoko appeared
…and invited me to take a shower and have breakfast. Remarkable generosity, because we hadn’t met last night. Their son had been at home while parents were out, and he rang them for permission for me to stay. Without knowing anything about me, they said ‘yes’. Timoko was the most gracious person you could meet, bowing constantly and begging me to have breakfast. She served me sweet rolls, coffee and fresh strawberries in their tatami lounge
…and then insisted on giving me a box of chocolates on my departure. I felt truly humbled when she came out to wave me off, and wish me a safe journey. What did I do to deserve all that……?