Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kiyomizu-Dera... the other one (temple 25)

When I first started this pilgrimage thing, I thought I would be going to each temple in order, and mostly alone. Since the first few I visited, it's become almost entirely the opposite. Each temple visit involves not only that temple and what is there, and my seeing it, but also who went with me, what we did that day. It's about the journey, not the destination. It's less about having all the book pages stamped than it is about having these days where I make a trip to a temple with a friend or family member.

It's kind of more about the weather, the trees, the mountains, and the people than the statues. At least for me. At each temple, I think about different things because those visits fall at different points in my own personal timeline.

Walkin' trail to Kiyomizu-Dera, this way!

So on April 21st with Mandi in tow, I made my way to Aino station, north of Takarazuka, to pick up Laureno so we could all visit Kiyomizu-Dera in the forested hills within the Kato borders. Unfortunately, Laureno was coming from farther out than I knew, and although the trains typically run on time, when they fail to do so, it's pretty catastrophic. The reasons and results can all be pretty upsetting. So for this, Mandi and I hung around the tiny town of Aino, waiting for Laureno's train to make it, hoping it wouldn't be so late that we couldn't climb the pilgrim trail up the mountain.

All three wervs have made it to the trailhead!
She did finally make it, and we took off through the hills for the temple. The countryside was beautiful, and it was good to be reunited with both the other Japan-dwelling wervs again. We made good time and started up the mountain, walking sticks in hand, chattering as wervs are wont to do. We stopped often for photos, and enjoyed the climb. I found it rather less difficult (/spiritual?) than the path at Engyo-ji, back over in Himeji, as this was a switchback path where that one had a few more "straight-up" portions, but all in all it felt pretty rewarding. We found the place where the old gate once stood, before it was destroyed by fire.

The gate was only some foundation stones, but it was at the top of this excellent stairway.
The new gate faces the car park, so we didn't see that til the end. We observed the cherry blossoms, still going strong up on the mountain, took in the view (complete with the golf courses apparently supporting the temple today), and I got my book stamped. This time, I had also brought along my own incense, so I lit some and stuck it into the amazingly smooth surface of the incense holding bowl.

Wervs behind the Jizo-do
We explored the area, listening to frogs croak outside the Jizo-do, and we rang the bell of good fortune. After that, we climbed up to the konponchu-do and sat in total silence. It was pretty surprising to me that with three people in a room and tourists outside, it could be so deeply quiet. I looked at the carved wooden Kannon in front of the thing that holds the secret sacred image (but I didn't take a photo of that one) for a while; we all three of us lit incense here in different amounts.

The bell tower; it really does sound beautiful!

The Konponchu-do, where we meditated.

The holy spring of clear waters!

Then we went out around back to the spring, for which kiyomizu-dera is named. I took a little sip of the water; by then it was getting dark and cloudy, and after a few false starts in which we thought some kind soul was about to give us a ride down the mountain, we hoofed it back, talking and singing, to the car, and back to the station so we could scurry back for various dinner plans. All in all it was a good visit.

Three wervs at the Nio-mon gate.

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