Sunday, January 25, 2009

My trip to Kochi

Woke up early to take the train to Kochi, the City on the other side, the pacific side of my island. See the man down there burning stuff? And notice how many farms there are. Every usable space...most yards in Japan are small farms that provide food for the neighborhood. Yards in America are a big waste, in this regard. Just imagine if...

Everything was black and white.

Then wooshhhhh....the picture shattered into emerald green Inland Sea glowing beneath a radiant sky.
The train turned right and headed into the mountains. See the river down there? Once I arrived in Kochi city, Shotaro (with the mohawk, remember?) took me to the an old market, then the castle (omg so beautiful), then the river. Since I hadn't done my hatsumode, "first shrine visit of the year," we ventured to an old shinto shrine tucked into a holy corner of the forest. Westerners party for new years; the Japanese visit a shrine to honor their ancestors...

Then Shotaro's wife Rika met up with us and we visited their friend and national wood carving champion, Yamamoto-san. Below are pictures of his den. We ate dinner, then headed to the most amazing bath house I have ever been to. It was huge, and the indoor area was filled with steam. Nearly all the baths and surfaces were either wood or stone, and the outdoor area had a cave you could crawl naked into like Gullum. I`m definitely going back.

Jizo-san by the side of the mountain road. They are "protectors," found along highways and dangerous mountain roads, and one might wonder how can a stone statue protect me in places like that? The answer is that they, being buddhas, remind us to be mindful.
Early morning at the beach. That's Masa, Rika's 6-year-old nephew.
Hiking through a bamboo forest's gold dream glow to the waterfall.
I love traditional Japanese houses.

The wood sculptor (recently featured on a Japanese TV speacial) put some fish on the stove for us.

We visited Rika and Shotaro`s favorite spot, Todoro falls. Masa thought it was "Totoro" falls.
This was the old Shinto shrine by the river. Stunning purple curtain, dark, heavy wood...five spirit rattles, a huge shimenawa and a tiny red tassel hanging dead center...Japanese Shinto shrines are kind of like American churches in many important ways...they are numerous-each neighborhood has one. They have an alter in the center, bells to ring; they have worship services inside. In fact, looking at both cultures from outer space, it's amazing how similar the artifacts of religious life have developed.

Rika turning the fish at the woodworker's house.
"He uses a chainsaw."
Paper lightning bolts (shide (紙垂) are used to symbolize the sacred. You put them around trees and shrines to indicate they are "full of God." You can also use them as god invitations . Check out yorishiro if you are interested in this kind of stuff. "Do you suppose he feels as disconnected from himself as his shadow is from him?"-Rick Winfrey
Walking down the river, listening to ducks and Shotaro, I suddenly wanted a cigarette. Where is a good smoking spot, I wondered. There, under that bridge! I saw the EVE, and then the man already smoking there. I must have smelled his smoke from down the river.
Shotaro thinks he looks like a duck.
view from inside Kochi castle.

It was cold, but the "energy" or consciousness coming from the presence of the falls mixed with the sunlight's fresh heat made us take our clothes off. Light shines in the rainbows and snowdrops falling from the trees, invisible thunder roar and eagle calls crumble the air, sunshine, cold air finds every pore breathing the sunlight, crystal wind wipes the mind clean, a wet chill takes the breath away. We meaningfully put on our clothes and hiked back through the bamboo forest's gold dream glow, back up the mountainside, back to the car and the rest of our lives.


Binny V A said...

I am a resident of Kochi and was a bit confused because none of your pictures looked familiar. That when I got it - you are talking about Kochi, Japan - when I am in Kochi, Kerala, India.

Still, nice to know you enjoyed your trip.

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