Friday, December 2, 2011

The "fake" PEPY Ride and Engyoji again

The bike ride got postponed for all-day rains on November 19th. The caused us to lose most of our ride population. Over the last few years, we've had around 17 or 19 people every time. This fall we had 6.

But for the one-day reprieve, I was secretly relieved. I was sick with a cold after KobeConference, and the last thing I wanted on Saturday the 19th was to drag my ass out of bed into the rain to lead a bike ride. So I happily did chores, laid around, coughed a lot, and did some work online on things on Saturday, and felt much more ready Sunday to take on Himeji Riiiide.

Unfortunately, I was camera-less even then, though I did have my phone (which takes, it turns out, fairly decent photos!), so I don't have a huge album of ride photos like I do from previous events.

From Himeji Ride November 2011

Honestly, with only 6, this was the smallest (and chillest) ride I've ever been on (or led). We biked in leisurely fashion from Himeji Station up to Shosha. Engyoji, the temple on top of Mt. Shosha, is the 27th temple of my pilgrimage. And to me, it felt like a real pilgrimage. At least much more than driving would have, anyway. Under my own physical power, I pushed up to that mountain. Climbed it too!

From Himeji Ride November 2011

Compared to other temples on the route, Engyoji is basically my backyard. I've been there many times before, and will likely go again; Engyoji is an old friend.

This time, I was armed with a little more information (thanks to about the things I'd been seeing and wondering about for years, especially those images lining the path up the hill that we always climb. They are models of all the 33 images at the 33 Kannon temples of the pilgrimage!

For example, from a spring ride.
From Himeji Riiiiiide

The fall color was pretty nice, and it was Momiji Matsuri (Maple Festival), so a lot of buildings were open that are normally closed to public view. It was also 3-5-7 Day down in Himeji, so we got to see a lot of adorable children in their finest duds.

As we climbed the mountain, we saw the sacred hymn of this temple written on a rock about halfway up. The climb and bike ride combined pretty much killed my knee, but I've recovered by now.

Engyoji is temple 27 on the circuit, and it was my third stamp-and-seal attended temple. Unlike the other temples, where I was a guest and curious onlooker, at Engyoji I am a regular pro. I am shy at the other temples, but here I waltz right in and start chatting (silently) with Buddha. Engyoji, unlike the other temples, speaks back to me quickly and easily, the way you can shout a brief message to someone you know well as they hurry out the door, but it would be rude to do that to someone you just met. Engyoji, unlike the other temples, gives me a response and an injunction. I light my incense, take my message, ask my question, get my answer, and go on to finish leading my bike tour.

It was a gorgeous day, lots of sunshine, everything clean from the previous day's rain. I suppose I would call it more of a personal success than a fundraising goal-meeter, but that's how it sometimes goes.

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