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The Walk to Temple 19

The chimes went off at 540 and i got up. When you sleep in a temple there is always a ceremony either in the morning; like this one or in the evening; like the one I am at tonight. Traditionally the ceremony is the monk doing some chanting along with the guests. I usually just close my eyes and go into some kind of deep meditation. At Temple 13 it was different. She started to tell about her story and where she is from and how she got here. It was impressive because she dared to revel more about herself when usually it is all about the chant/prayer or whatever. I was with the two Canadians who were bilingual and they were able to translate for me.

Kim Myo Seon was a traditional Korean dancer and singer. She came to Japan when she was 38 years old and fell in love with the head of temple 13. Every night, he would say “thank you for today.” Every morning he would say “let’s have a great day.” They had a son. The husband passed at the age of 95. She is now 50s and the head of the temple. The last thing she said today was “life is hard but love is easy.”

As she spoke of her husband, she cried. She played a bit, from Youtube, of her son doing a presentation. He is currently staying in America as a secondary school student, part of an exchange. As she played the clip you could see how happy she was hearing his voice. It was just an emotional, powerful, amazing moment. After the ceremony she came and ate with us for breakfast. It was just an intimate experience as I learned a lot about her.

The Canadians moved on while I kind of took my time walking. I was thinking about her and a lot about what she said. I guess the thing I thought the most about is just a peaceful reflection of how lucky I am to have what I have and to be where I am. It is not often I get time to think about these things since I am mostly concerned with the lessons needed to be taught, the school work for HKU that needs to be done and so on. For most of the day I was alone, thinking. It is one of the reasons why I came here and one of the reasons why I like it here so much.

I moved through temple to temple. 14-17 were close together and easy to bounce from place to place. The land was flat and easy to walk. I ‘knocked’ them off in no time. From 17 to 18 I had to walk across the city of Takamatsu where I arrived. The distance is fairly small but it is a city. A small one but a city with lots of people and cars and pavement. My mind got lost in the cars and the advertising and such. It wasn’t the best experience but something which needed to be done.

I was back into the countryside with a small river on one side and a 2 lane busy road on the other. Soon the path moved to a side street and it was back to villages, countryside, farms, and mountains. Getting to 18 was really easy since it was clearly marked out. I went up and did my mediations and got the stamp.

19 was a problem. First I had to climb up through this bamboo forest. If you ever walk through a bamboo forest you know it is loud. The wind knocks the bamboo and there are strange crashing sounds since it doesn’t bend like trees. It made for great pictures. The path continued but the signage was a bit of a problem. It wasn’t a big deal for me as it was just nice to be out of the city. I walked for a long time and I came to this small building with some westeners. I asked if they knew where 19 was? They responded I overshot it by 10 km. I had to retrace my steps 10 km back. It was just a shrug of the shoulders and I went back the way I came. They told me it was across a red bridge, something I had noticed before. There wasn’t a single emotion of anger.

I got to the temple and got a place to stay. I went to the ceremony, with no english translation, to sit and think.

Tomorrow should be a bit of a challenge since there is a call for rain. I have to decide what to do if there is rain. Do I carry on, stay here till it drys up or just see how it goes. I am currently reading Botchan by Natsume Soseki and really enjoying it. We shall see.

Published in Features