stepping stones of truth

A journey along the path of life - the stones can be rough, smooth or even wobbly!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kyoto Diary : Eight

The weather gods have been kind to us, and we have had only one shower of rain during our whole stay. But we have been promised that the temperatures will plummet a frightening amount shortly, but on this day it wasnt too cold yet, even up in Ohara - a small village, and our destination for a day out in the hills to the north west of Kyoto.

We went most of the way by train, as the buses get very busy during maple viewing time momiji. Once off the bus that wound its way up the lovely narrow vally, hugging the small rushing river at the valley bottom, we ended up at the bottom of a small lane that followed an even smaller stream up the mountain. Thats Robert, with the back pack and a head taller than most Japanese.

On one side they are shops and kiosks selling pickles (a favourite souvenir) and all types of alluring Japanese touristy things. I could spend a lot of money there, beautiful jackets and bags, and things - lovely things. I dont think we saw one Western tourist all day - a very local affair. But crowded!

Every bit of flat space is used, this is a tiny terraced plot where the path flattens out for just a few yards.

There are just a few temples up there, where the crowds thicken to admire the autumn colour and burn incense at the shrines. We had taken lunch with us and this was the view from our picnic bench, a few yards up a trail into the hills. It is a gate, now unused, into Sanzen-in, a lovely temple with the best incense for sale in Kyoto. One of my favourite places if it wasnt for the people!

We went for a short hike up the trail which more or less ended here. Apparently the sign tells that it is one of the stops on the circuit that the austere monks from a local temple still take. I seem to remember that they do it every day for a year, but I will check up on that. I know very few complete the training! They run in the traditional clothes (rope-soled straw sandals and straw hats) around a stiff and arduous mountain trail, with stops for prayers - often under waterfalls! This waterfall didnt look very full this time of year - more a dribble, said Robert.

But as you can see, as he and a couple of party cross a bridge, it has the potential to carry a lot more water down the hill side.

Water of a safer nature, but water nonetheless. This stone basin in Sanzen-in seemed to have grown its own mountainside vegetation.

The view from a smaller temple, a stone's throw from the busy lane.

The doors slide back to give lovely views of a small but harmonious garden. There is a small pond right outside, and it is a lovely tranquil spot to take green tea and just admire the view. Aaaaaaah,


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