Sunday, June 3, 2007

Mt Fujisan, Koyasan & Takayama Mountain Trip

Japan is a country of mountains and volcanic hills. Memmorial Day the clouds cleared at Mt Fuji's timberline or Fifth Station- a treat this time of year when it's a 50-50 chance of seeing the mountain. The otherside remained in clouds all day.
Mt Koya is south of Osaka. It took four trains, two subways, a cable car and a bus to get to Koyasan from Tokyo. This sacred mountain is home to Shingon Buddhism. I stayed in a temple, attended early morning services and a fire offering. The vegetarian meals provided at the temple looked beautiful and tasted good. The coiling dragon garden is the largest rock garden in Japan. Over 200,000 memorials line the path to Okunoin Temple through a cedar forest to the resting place of Kobodaishi, the founder of this esoteric faith similar to Tibetan Buddhism.
The next train trip took me to Takayama on the other side of the Japan Alps from Nagano where the winter Olympics were held. The train followed the Hida River canyon to Takayama. The city is often called "little Kyoto" with its preserved neighborhoods of old style wooden houses. You can always tell who is visiting a home, temple, museum or inn by the shoes at the door. At the folk art history museum I met a group of junior high school students who wanted to speak English with me. I taught them how to say "see you later alligator". In the afternoon, I visited the Hida Village with homes from the 1600's to see how folks lived then.
My last week is in Tokyo visiting the fish market, another temple, garden and museum along with some last minute shopping. It's hard to believe that four weeks flew by so fast.


Judy Wise said...

Paula, the photograph of you with the children is beyond precious!! What beautiful photos and what a grand time you must be having. The food looks so good; I wish I could share a bowl of miso soup with you. And the temple with the combed sand - I remember not wanting to leave that peaceful spot. Oh, you must be having the most wonderful time!

Mary said...

If you are ready for it, you too can go on a ten day silent mediation retreat, Buddhist style, with vegetarian meals and direction. Look up Vipassana on the web. The nearest center is near Centralia, in Onalaska, no charge but they will ask for a donation at the end.