Sunday, 26 April 2015

Heian Jinja Kyoto

Kindle Paperwhite arrived, love it actually, never really got on with electronic books before, tolerated them on the ipad but this is wonderful.

barriers, Kyoto
 Next group of photos from Heian Jinja, Kyoto

Heian Shrine garden, Kyoto
"In 1895, a partial reproduction of the Heian Palace from Heian-kyō (the former name of Kyoto) was planned for construction for the 1100th anniversary of the establishment of Heian-kyō. The Industrial exposition fair (an exhibition of development of Japanese and foreign cultures) was held in Kyoto that year, where the replica was to be the main monument. However, failure to buy enough land where the Heian Palace used to stand, the building was built in Okazaki at 5/8 scale of the original".

always seem to stumble upon something in Kyot, here a wedding.

oldest train carriage in Japan supposedly, resting place in Heian Jinja garden

moss on tree


Bonito eaten with just a little salt and the thinnest slice of garlic

Izakiya yoga tiger

Honey bourbon slush puppy

 new tenugui

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Mount Yoshino, Nara, Japan (Cherry blossom mountain). PLUS Shugendo

yoshino yama kozo no shiori no michi kaete mada minu kata no hana wo tadzunemu

I'll forget the trail I marked out on Mount Yoshino last year, go searching for blossoms in directions I've never been before.
Saigyō Hōshi 


Sakura everything

Sacred Sites & Pilgirmage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range (Japan)
The Ōmine range and Mt. Kinpusen are located in the Yoshino-Kumano National Park 吉野熊野国立公園 in Japan’s Kansai region. The park area was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004. This area remains a popular pilgrimage site and ascetic (yamabushi 山伏) training ground. Hiking along the pilgrimage routes in this area is considered “a must” for Shugendō practitioners. Such treks are known as Okugake 奥駈 or Mineiri 峰入り. 

Sacred Sites and Pilgirmage Routes in the Yoshino and Kumano area of Japan's Kii Mountain Range

Yoshino-Kumano National Park in the Kii Mountain Range. Famed for centuries for its mountains and temples and shrines (also the home of the legendary Tengu Goblin, the slayer of vanity), this region of Japan is very mountainous, with steep ridges, complicated peaks, and vast gorges. One of the most prominent religious sanctuaries since the Heian Period. The Yoshino region southeast of Osaka is the northern entrance of the Nyūbu 入峰 (mountain pilgrimage). The Ōmine mountain range between Kumano and Yoshino includes places of seclusion and ascetic practices such as Ozasa, the Shō rock carvern, the Zenki valley, and Mt. Tamaki. The pilgrimage path leads from Yoshino through Ōmine to Kumano.

Shugendō (修験道?) 
Shugendō (修験道?)  is a highly syncretic Buddhist religion or sect and mystical-spiritual tradition that originated in pre-Feudal Japan, in which enlightenment is equated with attaining oneness with the kami (神?). This perception of experiential "awakening" is obtained through the understanding of the relationship between humanity and nature, centered on an ascetic, mountain-dwelling practice. The focus or goal of Shugendō is the development of spiritual experience and power. Having backgrounds in mountain worship, Shugendō incorporated beliefs or philosophies from Old Shinto as well as folk animism, and further developed as Taoism and esoteric Buddhism arrived in Japan. The 7th century ascetic and mystic En no Gyōja is often considered as having first organized Shugendō as a doctrine. Shugendō literally means "the path of training and testing" or "the way to spiritual power through discipline."

practice gate
Those who practice shugendō are referred to in two ways. One term, shugenja (修験者), is derived from the term shugendō, literally meaning "a person of training and testing", i.e. "a person of shugen." The other term, yamabushi (山伏), means "one who lies in the mountains". Supernatural creatures often appeared as yamabushi in Japanese myths and folklore, as is evident in tales of the legendary warrior monk Saitō Musashibō Benkei and the deity Sōjōbō, king of the tengu (mountain spirits). Shugendō practitioners are the most direct lineage descendants of the ancient Kōya Hijiri monks of the eight and ninth centuries.[5]
Modern shugenja in Japan and throughout the world are known to self-actualize their spiritual power in experiential form through challenging and rigorous ritualistic tests of courage and devotion known as shugyō. Pilgrimages involving mountain treks are embarked upon by shugenja and, through the experience of each trek, as well as years of study, "rank" is earned within the sect. The rituals are kept secret from the neophyte shugenja and the world at large. This denju ensures the true faith of the neophytes and maintains the fear of the unknown as they embark upon the austere journey. This secrecy was also borne out of previous episodes of persecution and oppression of shugenja as a threat to the ruling military hegemony. Many modern shugenja maintain the practice of relative anonymity in their daily lives".

Saigyo's hut at the end of the long, long trail.

Saigyō Hōshi 
Saigyō travelled extensively, but one of his favorite places was Mount Yoshino, famous for its cherry blossoms.

yoshino yama kozo no shiori no michi kaete mada minu kata no hana wo tadzunemu

I'll forget the trail I marked out on Mount Yoshino last year, go searching for blossoms in directions I've never been before.

Looking down on Saigyo's hut


more on Shugendo here

and here on the Shugendo-Yoshino pilgrimage 

"Then, Lord Krsna blew His conchshell, called Pancajanya; Arjuna blew his, the Devadatta; and Bhima, the voracious eater and performer of Herculean tasks, blew his terrific conchshell called Paundram". Bhagavad Gita

giant conch