Apr 3, 2009

Day 0

Starting with this entry, I am going to go through the days of my Pilgrimage one at a time and post new photos (and maybe some you have seen before) and write more extensively about my experiences.

March 1st, which I am calling Day 0 so that the walking days will begin with Day 1, began early. I was up before 4 a.m. and Masayo drove me to Sendai station, arriving about 5:20. Ian arrived and we boarded the 6:04 Shinkansen to Tokyo where we changed to a train to Osaka. Arriving in Osaka at 11:26 we found, as expected, Keeko-san waiting on the platform. She is a grade school friend of my daughter Naomi and as a youngster spent a huge amount of time in my apartment. If it had not been for Kee-chan, we would still be in Osaka. The bus depot was on the 5th floor of a hotel that was connect to the station and not well marked. With her help, we found the station and purchased our reserved tickets. Then we went out to eat. We could not find anything outside the station and, since time was getting short, reentered the station and at in one of the restaurants there. We all had katsu sando with fries. A katsu sando is a piece of pork that has been fried in batter and with finely sliced cabbage and a spicy sause made into a sandwich. Fries, of course, are good old french fries. Returning to the bus depot, we said good bye to Keeko and boarded the bus

Once settled into our assigned seats, I noticed a sign that proudly announced that we were on a "footbus". What is a footbus? I have googled it and found the term but still can not distinguish between a regular bus and a foot bus. After a couple of hours of watching the scenery go by, we arrived at the rest area called Narito Nishi Bus Stop and, grabbing our backpacks, got off the bus.

We walked a couple of kilometers to reach Gokurakuji, the temple where we were spending the night. After checkin, we decided to explore the grounds since it was still early and we would be in a hurry the next day when we passed through the temple on our Pilgrimage.

This is the building that contained our room and a garden in front of it. As we continued a bit further from our building, we arrived at the roofed place for washing your hands. Every temple has one of these near the entrance and one of the first acts that a Pilgrim performs is to wash his or her hands.
On the right you can see towels for drying your hands and under the roof there is a fountain, providing constant fresh water.
This is a close up of the dragon on the roof. I believe the dragons symbolically protect the site from evil, but I am sure that it is more complicated than that.
Another dragon. The water for handwashing comes from the mouth of the dragon and almost all of the temples had such a set up. I took pictures of many of them, so you will be able to compare dragons. There are also scoops with long handles for dipping up some water to pour on your hands. The act is mainly symbolic so what you really do is pour water over your hands, rather that wash them - no soap or other cleanser is used.
Proceeding further in the the temple grounds we found a bell tower, another thing of importance to the Henro.


1 comment:

Sil said...

Thanks for posting this diary on your blog Charles. Shikoku is on my 'bucket list' of pilgrimages and for now I can travel on a 'virtual' temple pilgrimage with you!
Pilgrim hug,