The Kokokuji Temple Pilgrimage
This is the month of my 1 year anniversary of formal Shakuhachi lessons. I had been loosely planning a trip to “Mecca”, The Kokokuj Zen Temple where supposedly the Komuso monks started with the basket head-piece style thing.
It says so on the plank in front also shoyu sauce started at this place.
I even though there were some last minutes life hassles I was dealing with, family and was up most of the night with computer issues, I went on the journey anyway. I packed a lunch, my serious camera, Smartphone, iPad, Shakuhachi, and my gift from many years ago a Handmade Native American Walking stick. Made by a member of a California tribe. I started to bring it on the boat with us to Japan, but changed my mind later.
The weather for the day was good, not hot, not cold. It was I thought to be a three hours train trip, however after LZ researched it is just under a two hr trip from us. I was pleased about that.
The train trip was pretty much effortless. The train people were helpful with my passage a couple of times without even asking. One guy seemed happy to practice his English. So I had a fairly simple train trip to a very small town in Wakayama. After getting clear directions I started on the 15 min walk to the temple. I was surprised how big it was.
I had my lunch, which i brought with me, at the foot of the temple. After walking up to the main gate from the road I stopped just at the foot of a large staircase and main gate entrance. I had yet to see anyone. I walked in amazed at the size of the grounds. I looked into a couple of places, where i thought there would be people but there were none. I limited my walking into buildings but still explored freely.
I settled on to a little spot over looking the backside of the grounds. I was near a Kuan Yin statue, and I was overlooking a pond garden in the yard. Very peaceful spot! I only made a few notes, not really playing a song, while I was there. Just mostly the “Roe” note. Next year, I will play something off to myself on the hill overlooking the complex.
Today mostly I explored, sat, looked, took pictures, marveled. It was interesting, in a historic sort of way. As I was leaving I decided to take a few pictures with the Shakuhachi at the main temple, which housed some Buddhas. I had seen only three people there my whole visit and they had just left.
Afterward I packed up and was leaving another group of three guys were entering. Konnichiwa we all spoke.
I stopped for one last Moment of the vibe and a small glass of plum wine.
It was a good trip, I did lose my sunglasses, bummer but only a small one. The walk back to town was easier, as it was mostly down hill now. I stopped and took a few pictures at an old bus stop or something. It looked more like a scene in Mexico than Japan.
There was a woman with her small daughter there hanging out. Konnichiwa the woman said, and smiled, as did I. She did not seem the least bit shocked to see me there. Nor did any of the few people I encountered there and at the train station. A taxi driver waiting for a fare, did find me very interesting to watch when I first arrived..
I will do this again next year.
I may post a link to the photo blog, later so if interested, check back