Natalie Goes to Japan

40 year old very married blonde woman having a midlife crisis who heads to Japan alone to follow her dreams. Be careful what you wish for ... you just may get it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Pleasant Sidetrack







I had the national "Culture Day" holiday off from work. Yipee. Most holidays fall on Mondays, and I always have Mondays off. So they don't tend to mean much to me, accept that the garbagemen won't being picking up plastics that day, and I'll have to hold on to them for another week. But I had an actual holiday! I had heard that there was some good hiking up at Horai and thought I would give it a try. I'd never been there before. Or anywhere close to it. And my map was a little sketchy. But what the heck. One of the landmarks I was using was Hokoji Temple in Okuyama. And I found it! And I gotten so focused on finding it that I ended up in the parking lot instead of driving past it on the way to Horai. So I had a little visit. Turns out it is a buddhist monastery with quite the complex. I bought my usual incense and thought some good thoughts. I hiked up the hill to a lonely little shrine and ate my traditional egg sandwich. I took pictures, of course. And then I got to the main building. There were obviously some tour guides giving personal tours to the sightseers. One approached me and asked if I understood Japanese. I told him I understood a smidgen. Well, apparently that was good enough and he decided to show it too me. It was all terribly hilarious. I understood bits and pieces. Especially anything having to do with numbers - 300 years this, 3 gods that, 600 people the other thing. But mainly I just nodded and said "So des ne" (sorta equivalant to Is that so?) Every occasionally, when I understood not a word I would shake my head and say Wakarimasen (I don't understand). I did understand that somebody instrumental went to China along time ago to study buddhism. I also know that in some point in history that there was a typhoon and a ship was lost and many people died. But my tourguide found another tour guide who knew a smidgen of English and insisted they switch. Which was really embarrassing, because the other guy was in the middle of the tour with another batch of people. And this guys English was very limited. So I acted much the same way as before. But it was very amusing, and actually gave me a chance to communicate in Japanese. I don't really get very many chances. The tour must have taken 45 minutes and included several buildings, a zen garden and the seas of small statues all over the grounds. And the culmination was seeing the building that holds some of Buddha's teeth. After being freed from the tour I continued to wander the grounds, and got quite a bit of excersize walking all through the steep compound. It was too late to head to Horai. So I headed back to town very contented.

1 Comments:

At 8:11 PM, Anonymous Marco Schmidt said...

Dear Natalie, I read your blog entry on Hokoji. As I am planning to go there (I will probably stay 3 weeks at the temple), can you please describe the pictures on your page?
I am a zen buddhist from germany and our group is accociated with the Hoko-ji temple.
P.S. In your article you wrote about the tour-guide who was hard to understand. He was telling you about a guy who went to china. That guy was Bodhidharma who became the founder of Zen-Buddhism.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhidharma

I would be happy if you could email me mashpb@gmail.com
Greetings,
Marco

 

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