MANUEL AND MARINEKE IN
HIROSHIMA, (Miyajima),
KURASHIKI (Okayama, Yasugi and Naoshima),
NARA AND KOYASAN,
May 22 - 27, 2010

part of our visit to JAPAN
May 10 - 31
, 2010

go to Kobe May 10-15 and 29-31

go to Kyoto, Hakone, Takayama, May 15-22


Japanes breakfast
Takayama, May 22
It's nice weather.
Breakfast at seven 'o clock and we pay the bill of our pleasant stay at Hotel Acty.
We walk to the station where we buy a nice bento box for children (Marineke) and sandwiches for Manuel.
This will be our lunch later on.
Again,a nice clean train and comfortable chairs. The trip to Nagoya is relaxed.

river and dam
For us it is interesting to see the railway guard bowing every time when he enters and leaves the train compartment. How often will he do this in his career?
We like to look at the beautiful landscape passing by.
And of course especially with this sunny weather.

green tea

There are many (electricity)barrages in the rivers.
The rivers themselves are often beautiful, with rocks, rapids and waterfalls.
The rice fields (the young plants are barely above the water), bushes with green tea, vegetable gardens etc.
A man is treating his wife with Reiki.

About 45 minutes he is busy with her head, shoulder and back.

In Nagoya, we change to the Shinkansen. This very rapid train takes us in about an hour to Shin Osaka. This time we see almost an un- interrupted urban area. The scenery looks as a large, large city.
In Shin Osaka we have only 6 minutes to change.


reiki

nice and tastful bentobox
We have to go down and up again to move to another platform. We succeed to catch the train at the last moment.
Now we can rest again and we have our lunch.
Marineke enjoys tasteful content of the beautiful children's bento box. A good choice
Hiroshima has a very large station.
It takes quite a walk to the tourist office.
They explain us the way to the Youth hostel and which streetcar we need to take to the Peace Memorial Park.
We drop our luggage in the hostel and move towards the streetcar.
That feels a bit archaic (rocking and squeaking) after the super trains we had today.

no shoes

Atomic Bomb Dome
Immediately at the entrance of the park stands the Atomic Bomb Dome.
It is a ruin of what was once the showpiece of Hiroshima (building of industry promotions).
It was just under the spot where the bomb exploded and became a skeleton.
It is intended that it is forever preserved like this;
as a reminder of the horrors wrought by the bomb and a reminder of the danger of nuclear weapons.

peace monument

girl with crane
peace monument

millions of cranes

In the big, wide-ranging park are various monuments, such as a peace (eternal) flame,
a monument to the A-bomb victims,
a peace monument for children.
A girl suffering from radiation, had the hopeful thought, if she made 1000 (origami)cranes, she would be healed. Regretful, she died before she could finish her project.
After this, all the Japanese children make all kinds of compositions of cranes. Wishing for peace.
They are gathered and exposed.

At the end of the park is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, where we can enter at a symbolic price of 50 yen.
A very impressive peace museum tells everything about the atomic bomb: history, the role of power, scientific research beforehand, afterwards, the victims, disease by radiation, the heat of the bomb, the reconstruction of Hiroshima, forgery (and recovery) of history books for the youth and of course the need to stop the arms race. We are very impressed.

THE moment

before

after
A good historical overview about how Japan extended his power, how the Allies reacted and how they made the choice of Hiroshima as target of the bomb. It tells how much time it took to develop the atomic bomb, how and why the dropping of the bomb was decided, how the bomb was thrown, and of course very detailed what impact it had.
There are also a number of texts in which Japan admits that it also acted cruelly, and also about the revision of textbooks for the youth.
Especially impressive are the many objects, clothing and testemonies of the victims.
A number of personal life stories are very heart rending.

working for peace
 
working for peace


giant drum

A respectable part of the exibition is dedicated to activities to stop the arms race.
(Japan is not allowed to have an army,
it has a peace corps)
and activities to develop peaceful connections outside Japan.

Once outside we need to relax.
The area of the park works releasing.
We eat an ice cream and look for a post office.
In a very large shopping mall (huge food department) we do some shopping for the evening.
We take the streetcar to the hostel.
The room is small but fine (including bath and toilet). In the kitchen we make some salad and noodle soup and have a chat with an older Australian man.

work goes on


Ferry to Miyajima
May 23
The weather forecast indicates 100% rain.
A nice girl at the reception gives Marineke something (alternative plant; Chinese medicine) against constipation.
We walk under the umbrella to the railway station.
The train to the port (Miyashimaguchi) for the ferry to Miyajima (original name: Itsukushima) runs often.
Miyajima is a temple island near Hiroshima.
In the train we talk with a very nice Italian couple.
The man is a photographer.
We exchange business cards.
On the ferry we see already the wellknown large torii.
It is low tide, at high tide it stands in the water and seems to float.
Today no reflection, but a misty appearance.
We can walk to the torii, surrounded by people under umbrellas.

famous torii

walk
Even on this wet day it is a tourist attraction.
We wonder how many people will be here when the weather is fine.
Deer walking everywhere, even in the streets. They are tame and can be caressed.
We walk to Itsukushima shrine.
It is built on stilts. Platforms lead to different halls.

tame deer

Itsukushima shrine

sake

Itsukushima shrine

Itsukushima shrine

Itsukushima shrine wedding?


Itsukushima shrine
wedding?


little ceremony

The temple is colourful, beautiful and (if the weather permits it reflects beautifully in the water) very photogenic with all its painted red wooden pillars and golden decorations.
Although the weather is bad, several activities are going on.There is a small ceremony in progress (a priest, parents and a child) and something, maybe a wedding. In the meanwhile tourists and other visitors are strolling around


On a special point one has a nice view on the tori, so the people stop to make a picture, like we did.


nice spot for a picture

another hall

We walk over the platfoms, under the overall roof to the oldest Noh theater of Japan.
It is pouring with rain, so we don't stay long, we leave the temple and pass other holy buildings.

We like the one for the horse.

No one is walking on the bridge.


Noh theatre

special for the horse


bridge


prayer rolls
The Misen is a (holy) mountain (known as one of the three most beautiful spots of Japan). There are various spiritual sites and the panoramic view from the top seems to be magnificent
A beautiful complex with a variety of Buddhist sculptures and various Buddhist and Shintoist temples are built at the top and the base of it.
The Daisho in is a very famous temple at the bottom of the mountain..


prayer rolls


500 statues
After the entrance (Niomon Gate with guardian kins) we find the staircase to the complex, very stately with hundreds of prayer rolls.
There is also an entrance aside with a path bending repeatedly. 500 statues of Shaka Nyorai's disciple) staying besides. They have all unique expressions.
Some images are very humorous, others severely or contemplating, or even endearing.


We enjoy especially the figures of children associated with symbols from the Japanese zodiac.

many Buddha's and Bodhisatva's

cute

Japanese Zodiac

500 statues

The complex lies very picturesque against the mountains.
Between the buildings you can see nice vistas.
Now, because of the rain, unfortunately disappearing in the photos. On the other side we can see everything at ease, because it is so quiet.
The mountains, covered in clouds, give a special atmosphere. Easy to make associations to the subtle pen and brush drawings from China and Japan.
There are of course a belfry, an information and registration office (to get the stamp when your are on pilgrimage and where you can find prayer-plates etc).


atmosphere

nice woodwork

Maniden Hall

octagonal Hall

We lit a candle and an incense stick in the Chokugan Hall, which appears sympathetic to us. Here are 1000 Fudo images.
Nimikiri Fudo Myo or Cosmic Buddha, who destroys evil.


altar

In Chokugan-do the wooden sticks with inscribed prayers are burnt at ten o' clock every morning. (goma Ritual).
In the Maniden Hall (main prayer hall for the Sanki Daigongen - including good health and longlivity) are prayers accompanied by Taiko drum also offered every day. In the Maiden Hall we find back-stairs, allowing us to climb up to a room under the roof of the temple.
It is good to be here.
Very relaxing athmosfere and the little altar is very nice.
There are 1000 images of Amida Nyorai, Buddha of Infinite Light, believed to take the deceased to West Paradise.


in the attic

in the attic

in the attic

just sit
When it is crowded, one could hardly feel the serenity.
We might just sit quietly and enjoy peace, harmony, beauty in the refined simplicity of the design.
Manuel says he should like to sit here the whole day and just sit and watch.

and watch

In the Kannon-do is a lecture gooing on. All women and one man listening to an explanation about physical exercise and healing.
From Daisho-in's temple grounds, a hiking trail leads to the summit of Mount Misen, where a few more temple halls are located. The ascent takes about 1.5 hours.
It is also possible to go by ropeway.
But of course today it is no use: the mountain is in the clouds. We will miss the sites on top.
We saunter a bit more around and enjoy the statues and the ceramics.


deer and cub

ceramics


badger


Kannon-do Hall

for children
especially for children
for children

monk

quiet at the offices

Hakkaku Manpuku Hall

rain (Kannon-do)
 
rain

5 storied pagoda

Buddha

bodhisattva

prayer plates and garlands of cranes
Slowly we walk down to the ferry and take the train back to Hiroshima.
(the tori is now surrounded by water).
We buy a Okonomiyaki and we go to the hostel.

gods like also cans

looking
The first night we had a private room, this night we sleep in a mixed dorm (two bunks), because the private rooms are occupied. The third person expected, does not arrive. (perhaps deterred by the rain?) So we have enough room.
bunk bed

May 24
We get up early, eat a little and at a quarter past eight we sit in the train to Okayama.
It is rainy (but the forecast promised that later on the day it will be dry).
At our arrival we store our luggage in lockers and we go with the streetcar to the famous castle of Okayama.
In a road curve we have to get off and the driver leaves his cabin to show us how we have to walk: so thoughtful.
On the road to the castle we see a heartwarming class of kindergarten children, all with umbrella and rain hat.

kindergarten in the rain

car parking

Further on, we look with admiration how cars are parked above each other, ingenious.
a car drives in a free space and a parking officer manages the car "upstairs".
The dark "crow castle" rises above the trees, so named because it is black. In 1945 destroyed by bombing, but in 1966, reconstructed in old style.


Okayama castle

cleaning
At one of the the entrance gates workers sweep away fallen leaves.
At the ticket office we can drop our little bag and umbrellas.
They tell us the best thing is first to take the elevator to the top. From here you have a beautiful view of Okayama and we can also admire the Dolphin-like golden roof decorations.
These fish-like creatures are meant to fend off fires.

roof ornament

ruler
 
warriors

ruler
In the castle is an exhibition of many goods and armor of the samurai period.
Again we enjoy the beautiful paintings. Everything set up very educational.
By a female employee Marineke is dressed in a kimono. A complete metamorphosis. (yes, on the picture it's really me)
We can try also an antique sedan.

transformation

palanquin
The castle is located on the Asahi River, which was used as a moat.
Korakuen Garden is located just across the river.
This is a very famous and beautiful garden, more a park.

Korakuen
There is an artificial lake and there are artificial hills.
Remarkable are the many lawns in this Japanese garden/park. This is unusual.
Many trees are pruned in many variations.


Korakuen

Korakuen

turtle

There are
of course many koi carp and also turtles are represented


turtle

bento boxes
 
bento boxes

tea complete
A Japanese group is sitting on a bench and lunch with bento boxes, we get hungry too.
In a teahouse, we use a nice "tea complete", including a very tasty cold soup, and pickled herring wrapped in rice.
Some sweets for dessert.

thee

giant frog

lotus plants
 
wrapped tree

reflections

path

just married
We walk leisurely through all lanes along the varied sections. The garden was established in 1700 as a walking garden. The castle as a decor at the background fits beautifully into the whole. It is a great place for photographers; a just married couple has their wedding picture taken.
leaf looking

Korakuen
In a separate section are cranes in large cages, we find this somewhat less successful.
Although, one is hatching out; breeding brooding, so they are not entirely unhappy in captivity.

We walk relaxed through the city back to the station. There is plenty to see again: How cars and bikes can be parked savely. A special sign for a footpath, etc..
In the station, we look for the lockers.

parking cars

parking bikes


Okoyama fountain


pedestrians

On the platform we get on the first train which goes in the direction of Kurashiki and hope it will also stop there.
Some ladies in the nearly empty compartment have a little conference about our question and can reassure us that the train will stop in Kurashiki in about ten minutes.
We receive a beautifully wrapped candy gift to enjoy our trip.

The weather became beautiful during the walk in the Korankuen.

In Kurashiki a friendly girl from the tourist office indicates us how to go to the minshuku where we will sleep next three nights.


everywhere crazy cats

A very sweet hostess welcomes us.
We have a spacious room in a Japanese style with shared bath.
In the dining room are regular dining tables and chairs. Our hostess takes us to a private prayer room.
She sings/prays for a good stay.
We ask her how to go to the toy museum and she gives us a cookie en route. What a sweetheart.
We walk through a quiet city to the Japanese toy museum in the historic Bikan district.
Bikan district

toy museum

It is situated beside a channel with beautiful willows. The museum is crammed with all kinds of traditional toys.
In the first room toys from Japan and other countries. The following three rooms are slightly more thematic: wooden toys, spinning tops, kites, puppets. Unfortunately, the explanations are in Japanese, so there is much we do not understand.
The museum is linked to a store with traditional wooden toys.


oh?

We walk through Kurashiki Ivy Square (indeed much ivy growing); along many shopping streets (which become extinct), we see a pottery studio and some ceramics (amateur).
pottery workshop

Japanese dinner in our Minshuku
We pass the outside of a shrine (also closed), and go back to the minshuku.
After a short rest, we get an absolutely fantastic meal. After a hot bath we relax.

May 25
After a good sleep on the futons we have at seven o'clock a beautiful and delicious breakfast.
The weather looks changeable, but not bad.
Today we go to Yasugi, to the famous Adachi Museum of Art; well known for both its superb Japanese gardens and its collection of contemporary Japanese paintings.
The fast train to Matsue, again a different type, is comfortable again, nice seats, (like in airplanes).
We ride through a beautiful mountainous landscape, many large and small rivers, endearing villages and a lot of rice fields.
The area near the coast is somewhat flatter.

maintenance

Yasugi station
Sometimes it rains, but when we arrive in Yasugi the weather is reasonable.
We have to wait for the shuttle bus to the museum, so we drink a cup of coffee in the station buffet. It's cosy, nice and tidy.
Even the most common packaged food and drinks look pretty or beautiful on display.
The shuttle bus brings us in about 20 minutes to the Adachi Museum.

gay guy

Adachi garden

The garden has been awarded as the finest in Japan for a number of years, it is not just free accessible.
From strategically placed windows in the the museum you have a splendid view on the gardens.
There are some paths where you can walk. The composition, the vegetation, the beautiful maintained gravel sections, the natural overflow of the garden in the mountains in the background, the water, it's all of an absolute beauty.


Adachi garden

Adachi garden
The museum has a large and impressive collection of older and newer Japanese art. A large part is not visible at the moment because there is a special exhibition. The museum policy is aimed at displaying varying parts of the collection.
The current exhibition is focussed on Taikan Yokoyama's paintings, one of the innovators of Japanese painting.
Furthermore, ceramics by Kitaoji Rosanjin and Kawai Kanjiro.
It seemed to us, - no experts in non-European art- , hard to see where the innovation is shown in the paintings and ceramics.
For us 'innovative' art begun by the Impressionists and then other innovations repeatedly followed.
However, it appears that in Japan the roots of the tradition are much stronger. That makes it harder for us to see the subtle distinctions.

Taikan

Taikan

fence
Besides this exhibition, there is a beautiful exposition of illustrations for children's books, including a book of haiku for children. We love it.
There are also some wonderful examples of ancient Japanese writing boxes and writing tables.

And among all, the incredible views on the beautiful garden outside.

waterway

workers in the garden

waterway

waterway
We have to wait quite a while for the shuttlebus. That's why look for something to eat.
We have some fun by getting a portion of chips from a food and beverage jukebox.
The machine also changes money.
After a while it supplies in the bottom drawer of the machine, warm and good edible chips neatly in a box.
We are one hour earlier and at the station we can redeem the reserved seats for new ones.

Adachi garden

little nap
When we are not standing at the exactly right place to wait for the train, the nice staff brings us to the right spot.
We enjoy the journey back.
At the station in Kurashiki, we finish our "junk food day" in Mac. Donalds with a burger - and chips, phew.
It's funny, we are the only adults in this "restaurant".
All the others are young people in school uniform.
They pay with their cell phones (Marineke did not know this was even possible).
At the tourist office we get some information about Naoshima where we go tomorrow.
The bath in the minshuku is very, very hot this time.

May 26
We get another wonderful breakfast.
The weather is nice: some wind and clouds, sometimes dark, sometimes light.
Our train ride to the port in Okayama (Uno) is not a problem, the transfer is excellent.


nice breakfast

farming

This time we see a different landscape.
Many crops, less rice fields.
From the train window we see a traditional farmhouse with a woman who cultivates the land, ....only the farm is located directly under the viaduct. A special picture.


nice couple
The ferry takes us in about 20 minutes to the island Naoshima.
It is nice to take fresh air on the upper deck.
A very nice older lady chats with us and gives us a few small self made origami gifts. Her very friendly husband joins us, we exchange business cards.

quit inside

long bridge in the distance

Island in the Japanese inner sea

Benesse museum (picture taken from internet)
On Naoshima are a number of famous art museums.
We take the bus to Benesse House Museum.
It is a combination of museum, hotel (cold poop says Manuel). The building of concrete and glass is very spacious, very well suited for the exhibition of contemporary art.
The collection itself is rather predictable. Similar to collections in other museums of modern art: we see Warhol, Wesselman, Basquiat, Bruce Nauman, Kounellis, Hockney Giacometti, Yves Klein.

Two Japanese artist stand out: Kan Yasuda The Secret of Sky: two beautiful shaped large stones where in the sky above the courtyard interact with and Yukinori Yanagi "The world flag ant farm", a list of all flags of the world, where the flags are eaten by ants. Transience of powers, whatever.
We walk to the Chichu museum.

We pass a garden with nice flowers. This is Chichu garden with many nice flowers. It is designed in the way Claude Monet would have liked it.


Chichu garden

Chichu museum (picture taken from internet)
The museum architecture is partially underground.
The exhibited works are again mostly "western".
We do not enter because the entrance fee is pretty high, we are very tired, and we usually see in Europe a lot of modern Western art.
We decide to decline slowly to the port and to have a look at the outside art placed across the island.
There are unique works on Naoshima.
One of the more stimulating is the Cultural Melting Bath (see photo at top of article). The Chinese artist, Cai Guo-Qiang placed 36 fluidly shaped stones in an area near the beach in accordance with feng shui, the ancient Chinese study of the flow of energy through the earth. The stones, Cai says, focus the earth's energy on the six-seater hot tub they surround. Parties staying at Benesse House can reserve this particular artwork for one hour periods and adjust the lights and bubbles to suit themselves.

Cultural Melting Bath

Walter de Maria
Marvelous to us are the two very large granite spheres behind a glass sliding door.
They seem to look at the surrounding of the island caused by the reflection of the glass doors.
They are flanked by three, four and five-sided golden wooden posts, very, very nice.

Appel and Niki de Saint Phalle

Art house project
We see also work made by Appel, Niki de Saint Phalle.
We meet a Dutch couple -on the bike- near the shop where you can buy tickets for the "Art House Project" (again, quite expensive). Artists turned old houses into art.
The couple tells u that several houses are worth seeing and some less.
The art houses are rather spread throughout the neighborhood. A bike would be handy. We recommend this to next island visitors!!
This time we have to seach before we find a toilet.
It is hidden behind a rather dowdy beaded curtain, but behind this everything is ultra modern.
En route we see an older man making wood sculptures from found objects. nice.
The school building we pass is modern.
Children on the lawn greet us enthusiastically.
They sit themselves in rows on the grass and listen attentively to a teacher.
Opposite the school is a house with a garden very neat "cut and shaved".

object trouve

bus stop (kindergarten)

school complex
modern design


school building

garden "cut and shaved"

more art

art in duplo
At the coast we see a work of art (two boats) we encountered inside the Benesse museum as painting.
We are hungry.

We buy some very tasty cake-like bread at a mobile stall, delicious.
On the other side of the street we see two women on the sidewalk chatting and eating something.

We have to wait for the ferry a little while and drink a cup of coffee in an extremely spacious modern 'pier building '.

cakes and sandwiches

chatting and eating
Outside Marineke makes some pictures from gardeners cleaning the lawn and more art works.
Manuel chats inside with an American family. They are bowled over by Japan.

pier building

more art

picking weeds
gardeners weeding the lawn. They pick the weeds by hand
gardeners

art and ferry

on the ferry deck
It is quiet on the ferry.
We enjoy again the fresh air and so do other people.
At the tourist office in Kurashiki Marineke can check her e-mail. (the minsuku has no free internet access).
Again the beautiful food is served unbelievably well.

very beautiful dinner


again nice breakfast
May 27
After again a nice breakfast we get presents from our dear hostess, including handmade (by herself) drawings with text, decorated luck shells and a calendar with various tips on eco-eating, drinking, etc.
She walks with us to the corner of the street and waves good bye.

nice hostess

flower used for painting
......(at home we put the drawing plus nice wish on the wall near our entrance) --------------->
paper wish
We have an early train to Okayama so we have ample time to switch.
In the train to Nara we feel very satisfied. What can go wrong?

Something can go wrong. That appears in Nara.
After we leave the station we cannot find the guesthouse where we made a reservation.
We get help from a very nice woman, she walks with us through the streets, asking many people until we arrive at a guesthouse.
We say goodbye to her and make an appointment to meet again after dinner.
Unfortunately the guesthouse (which looks nice and cozy) is not the one we booked. They tell us that it is located a number of stations earlier; in Oji-Nara, where we had to disembark and not in Nara itself.
It is a pity, but we cannot cancel the reservation without much expenses.
So we thank the kind people in this guesthouse for their help.
We go back to the station, we decide to put our luggage into lockers.


nice help


deer

There is only one large locker available.
The other backpack we have to push in a smaller one.

We ride by bus to the Nara Park.
Nara Park (Nara Koen) is a large park in central Nara. Established in 1880, it is the location of many of Nara's main attractions including Todaiji, Kasuga Taisha, Kofukuji and the Nara National Museum.

Everywhere deer (messengers of the gods), at the oddest places.

Besides deer, there are also many students.

students and deer
We walk to the Todaiji.
This temple is the largest wooden building in the world, containing also the largest Buddha (bronze) statue in the world.
The temple is 57 meters wide, 50 meters deep and nearly 50 meters high.

impressive

construction of the roof

Todaji

imposant Nandaimon gate to Todaji

Buddha

Buddha and Bodisattva
The statue is 15 meters high, The head is 5,5 m and eyes are each 1 m, ears are 2.5 meter!
The statue is beautifully situated against a golden background with figures who sit on flowers.

The Buddha is flanked by beautiful gold painted Bodhisattvas and giant grim guards.

People take pictures of the Buddha and from each other.
Many students ask us if we agree to be on a picture together with them.

guard

A popular attraction of Todaiji is a pillar inside the temple which has a hole in its base the same size as the Daibutsu's nostril.
It is said that those who can squeeze through this hole will be granted enlightenment in their next reincarnation.


hole in the pilar

buy your destiny

children and bell

are you free?
Many students ask if they can speak with us and if we can put our name in their excercise books.

We continue our walk through the park and pass by a hall where we can rest and drink a cup of tea.

We walk to the Kasuga Shrine, famous for its lanterns, both of stone and metal.

lanterns

Kasuga Taisha (Kasuga Grand Shrine)
There are a few ancient trees in the temple garden.
The oldest one is more than a thousand years old and has an outline of 8 meters.
The buildings are beautiful, it is a pleasure to walk through them and to admire the lanterns.

altar

Kasuga Taisha
Kasuga Taisha is famous for its lanterns, which have been donated by worshipers.
Hundreds of bronze lanterns can be found hanging from the buildings, while as many stone lanterns line the approaches to the shrine. The lanterns are lit twice a year on the occasion of the Lantern Festivals in early February and mid August.

vista

Kasuga Taisha

Kasuga Taisha
everything is perfectly finished.
nice knot

thousands

Kofukuji pagoda
Finally we visit the Kofukuji with the beautiful 5-storey pagoda.
Impressive, especially when you realize that this has been restored in the 15th century (and still is in a good condition).
We are very tired, also caused by the searching earlier in the day.
We walk back to the station. We cannot find the lockers. On inquiry, we discover we went to the wrong station.
The other station is fortunately not far away.
We pass a post office to get some money, but the ATM seems to pay no longer to foreigners (overworked?).
The train will leave in about 10 minutes, not bad,
But it appears to be a looping train and instead of a 20 minutes journey, it takes one hour and twenty minutes.
In Oji Nara, we find guest house Yugendo quickly.
The receptionist is very kind, the room perfect.
The women at the reception, calls the lady of our appointment and asks her whether we can mail (what is happening actually).
We get a tour in the beautiful old building with beautiful rooms and old furniture.
We bring our luggage to our room and eat something in the large department store nearby. This warehouse is really huge and is open day and night. We do some shopping.

nice room in separate builing

altar in Yougendo
We can use wireless internet and we mail our friends.
Later on we take a shower in a modern cabin.

modern


guesthouse Yougendo, Oji Nara
May 28,
After a good night's sleep, we eat a Western breakfast in Japanese style (especially the way it is prepared and served).
When we say goodbye to our hostess she explains how we can travel to Koyasan on the cheapest way.
When we arrive in the station an officer tells a different way. It has to do with the distance we have to go with a private train. Within five minutes we get on the JR train to Hashimoto where we have to change. It is a slow train, but we feel good and relaxed.
In Hashimoto we need a ticket for the private Nankai Line to Gokurakubashi.
We think the The Nankai-train is rather expensive, but a train is already waiting and we can get on immediately.
We need to pay another 500 yen extra per person, for it shows to be a kind of express train.
The ride is comfortable and we are going through a beautiful scenery. The train winds through the mountains, sometimes through tunnels and all the beautiful forests are a feast for the eyes.
The cable car in Gokurakubashi is ready to go.

cable car to Koyasan

cable car
A stagewise wagon has to ascend a steep slope. In the wagon there is a lot of chattering.
Mainly Japanese tourists seem to come for the first time.
Again a nice ride.
At Koyasan station we take the bus to the point where the driver says our temple is located.
But we have to search: there are a lot of temples here. A woman from the tourist office shows us the right entrance.

cable car

entrance rengein
In the temple it is quiet, we see no one. But after a while a special monk (to welcome visitors) arrives and takes us to our room. He explains about all facilities (bathing, toilet, etc.). He speaks good English, is very friendly and has a sense of humour.
The room is spacious and comfortable, with TV and locker.
There is also a kind of porch.
In the porch is a table with low chairs and we have a tea served.

We're going to explore Koyasan; we have to choose between the many highlights in this temple town.
Kyasan is an active monastic center, founded twelve centuries ago by the priest Kkai (posthumously known as Kb Daishi) for the study and practice of Esoteric Buddhism.
It is the headquarters of the Kyasan sect of Shingon Buddhism, with a wide following throughout Japan.
Situated on a small plain at the top of Mount Kya is the sacred area known as the Danj Garan, a complex of temples, halls, pagodas and Buddhist statuary that welcome visitors to this serene and hallowed place.


room with porch

museum with presents from all over de world

First we have a look in a kind of personal memorial buiding from a man who travelled a lot around the world and brought nice presents from many countries.
In the shopping street we see a shop where you can buy stone lanterns.


lantern shop

Okunoin
We walk to the cemetery Okunoin.
On this gigantic graveyard are about 200,000 graves. Many of them are very old, others recent. The whole is situated between huge ancient cedars. Many 60 to 70 meters high.
The atmosphere is pleasant, by its numerous green areas and the peacefulness.
There are monuments for many famous Japanese people: a monument to Matsuo Bash (1644-1694), haikupoet to Takahama Kyoshi (1874-1959), haikupoet and novelist.and Japan's oldest tanka stupa inscribed in hiragana letters.

Okunoin
Remarkably are the many
graves that have to do with children, small figurines with bibs around and often hats on.

Okunoin

Okunoin

Okunoin

Okunoin
On some old
monuments new trees
are growing.

old and new

wreath
of origami cranes
Cleaning has to be done and graves and monument have to be maintained.
cleaning tools

monument in a brook
Sometimes we don't understand the meaning.
At the end of the long path along the graves is a row of Buddha statues at the Gokusho Offering Hall which lies near a row of statues depicting Jizo, a popular Bodhisattva that looks after children, travelers, and the souls of the deceased.
Visitors make offerings and throw water at the statues, known as Mizumuke Jizo (Water Covered Jizo) to pray for departed family members.

Mizumuke Jizo

piramid with statues for (departed) children
We cast a glance at the Torodo Hall (Hall of Lamps) is Okunoin's main hall for worship, built in front of Kobo Daishi's mausoleum. Inside the hall are more than 10,000 lanterns, which were donated by worshipers and are kept eternally lit. In the hall's basement are 50,000 tiny statues that have been donated to Okunoin on the occasion of the 1150th anniversary of Kobo Daishi's entrance into eternal meditation in 1984. Behind Torodo Hall is Kobo Daishi's Mausoleum (Gobyo), the site of his eternal meditation. Visitors come from all over to pray to Kobo Daishi, and it is not uncommon to see pilgrims chanting sutras here
Okunoin

get some tea

At Gobyo-hashi we can rest and drink some tea.
You use a spoon and take it out of the kettle.
(choose green or black tea).
In a separate room you can sit down and enjoy.

and have a rest

tiger cut in paper

Everywhere in Koyasan we see tigers cut in paper, even at the entrance of the toilet building.

We go back to the center to see to some other "highlights".
In the Daishi Kyokai, we witness part of a ceremony.
The monks, including some women are kneeling before the beautiful central altar and recite sutra's , it sounds like a kind of minimal music. Striking is the breathing technique. The texts are recited continuously neither sentences, nor breathing pauses can be distinguished. We continue to listen until one of the the monks says they will close.


sweet
We walk to the Danjo Garan temple complex and admire the buildings from outside, including the two-colored pagoda.
This will also close, but we see that it is beautiful to be inside.
Tomorrow we will have another look.

Konpon daito pagoda

Daimon gate
We walk tho and through the Daimon gate.
This is the huge gateway to Mount Koya.
Very impressive.
Here we have a beautiful view of surrounding mountains and forests. It is a bit hazy, otherwise we could look further. There are hiking trails here. Unfortunately we have no time for a walk.

construction

nice view
In our temple lodging Renge-in we get a delicious vegetarian meal.
It seems to be that we are the only guests.
We have chosen the right one; we like to be in this small temple lodging.

nice dinner
Marineke talks with a monk and asks him about the possibility to focus on a friend in the morning service. It is possible. But we have to pay for the wooden board (one that becomes a special stamp and in a Japanese text the name of the girlfriend and her disability).
After the service we can take the board home.


entrance morning service
May 29
We get up at six 'o clock, to go to the Buddhist early morning service. A young monk shows us a seat on a bench.
There are only a few monks. This is a small temple.
The prayers sounds again like monotone mantra's and are very soothing. Sometimes sounds a cymbal or woodblock and rustling of paper. The prayer for our friend is woven in, we hear at least her name, age and residence. After the service Marineke receives the tangible evidence. During the service the pastor sneezes a few times. That keeps it human. The ceremony is a beautiful start of the day. Afterwards we get a tour in the interior of the temple, "behind the scenes". Par example the deity to which this temple is dedicated.
Breakfast is ready and again beautiful to see. Only a kind of porridge Manuel does not like. We pack our backpacks and leave them here for a while, because we want to visit some spots in Koyasan. The weather is beautiful. We regret that we cannot stay longer to make a couple of nice walks in the mountains. We go to the Kongobuji.
This temple origins back to 1593.
It is the main temple of the approximately 3600 that the Mount Koya Shingon division of Japan has.

Kongobuji

water barrels
Inside are the beautifully painted doors especially worthwhile.
Topics include: flowers, cranes, the travels of Kobo Daishi and the way he imported Buddhism. All painted with great skill and perform excellent harmony.
(it is not alowed to take pictures inside, so in this report only pictures from the gardens etc.)
The temple itself has a beautiful wooden structure. On top are large water barrels attached on the roof to protect against fire.
In Koyasan many temples were burned .

tea

In one of the large rooms we have a tea (for free) and look at a magnificent embroidary.

The atmosphere is very good.


tea room

tea room

embroidery in tea room

nice buildings and Zen gardens

small tempels outside

small altar nice atmosphere

praying

pilgrim

inside Kopon Garan (from internet)
We visit the Garan area, especially the vermilion Konpon Daito Pagoda (where we arrived yesterday when it was closing).
The heavy pillars which bear the pagoda are marvellous.
The statue of the Dainichi Nyorai (Cosmic Buddha, also known as Variocana), the central Buddha in Shingon Buddhism, stands in the middle of the pagoda's interior.

picked from internet

Kopon Daito
Danicchi Nyorai is surrounded by statues and paintings on pillars, which together make up a rare three dimensional mandala (a metaphysical map of the cosmos).
Mandala are usually two dimensional paintings.

Kopon Daito
Dainichi Nyorai is in the center of the Kongokai- and the Taizokai Mandala.
He presents the whole universe, the all including reality.
The different figures painted on the columns around him present different aspects of Dainichi Nyorai, mirrorlike wisdom, wisdom of equality, wisdom of discrimination and wisdom of action. Those are the four wisdoms present in the Kongo Kai Mandala, the Mandala of the Diamond Realm.

We stay quite a long time inside and enjoy to hear a group of people singing mantra's.

The building is a stunning piece of architecture. It symbolizes Mount Koya.

Kopon Daito

visit finished, shirt no longer needed

Many pilgrims walk around, many people pray.
We see also groups of tourists

Several times we encounter a group of pilgrims (we think) in white shirts with a guide or driver (no white shirt). At the end they take of their shirts and leave these at the office. So: no pilgrims but business man visiting Koyasan?

We walk along other beautiful buildings on the large Garan complex.

We visit to the Reihokan museum. (no pictures allowed)
It exposes religious treasures from past centuries: paintings, sculptures, calligraphy and utensils. There must be very much material, but only a small part is visible due to the lack of room.
A sign next a famous large cloth and a statue indicates that these ones will be exposed in October on the world exhibition in Shanghai.

roof Reihokan Hall

Daishi Kyokai
We meet a very nice lady at the large information center of Daishi Kyokai. She gives a detailed explanation of the Shinto and Buddhism, and answers some of our questions we did not ask anywhere else till now. Very instructive. We can also email her if we have further questions: http://www.koyasan-ccn.com. (I strongly recommend to look at this website)

We walk back to "our" temple to pick up our backpacks. We have a warm chat with the monk who acted as our host. He says he would like to mail us. At home we will see if he does.

He also tells us where to find the bus stop.
At the gate the monks of the Rengein stand in a row, bow and wave goodbye.
We had a good stay in this temple.
The bus brings us quickly to the cable car.
At the Gokurakubashi station we have half an hour before our (slow) train leaves.
We can take the express train which leaves in a few moments, but that means a lot surcharge.
In the sun, at a nearby waterfall, we chat with a German boy who is going to hold a lecture in Kyoto. In the train we continue the conversation.

In Osaka we have to change trains again and in the station we buy an apple pie (we think it turns out to be a sweet potato pie with a few slices of apple) for Yasuko and Ryoji.

Nankai train (ordenary)

surrounding of Koyasan
The next two trains bring us right on time in Asagiri. Here we take the cab.
Exactly on the scheduled time we are at the house of our friends.
The reunion is warm. Good to be here again.
We get a juice, have a shower and sort our luggage already a little bit.
Then we get a delicious tempura meal accompanied by a very tasty, this time cold, sake.
After dinner we drink green tea and taste the (potato-apple) pie.
We chat a bit an admire the new camera Ryoji bought.
We brought a gift, a beautiful wooden box with a secret way to open.
It delivers a lot of fun to search proper way of opening.

tempura dinner

back to Kobe

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