Mt. Kurama, Japan 12/19/2016

 

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took the eizan electric train up & outta town
past one stop after another under the
shadow of mt. hiei
past markets &
townhouses & schoolyards
cemeteries
canals
& baseball diamonds

disembark in the shadow of the
hills
walk through the town
up towards the temple gates

take our lunch at
yoshi-ji
an all vegetarian place
in an old farmhouse
around an open hearth

wooden tea & strange
jams & jellies

we soon make our way
through the nio-mon gates
& up into the forest lair

yosikurainari-sya shrine the first
of dozens upon dozens
that we come to
drop a coin
jangle a bell
bow &
clap

up we go under pine
& woodlands
jangling bells &
bowing all the way

at yuki shrine
there are towering pines
one ringed in rope & paper talismans

candles burn
incense smokes
the steps lead further on

statues & stones
& shrines a plenty
bells & candles &
incense fills the air

we climb many steps
past vermillion lantern boxes

bronze buddha housed behind
sliding doors & recent snowfall
higher we climb as the
valley comes into view

rolling mountains blanketed
in green of pine & splashes of
orange

at the honden hall
the forest is cleared

an enormous pavilion
with various shrines &
temples

incense burning in great plumes of smoke
we light candles
make a wish at the power spot

toss some coins upon a sacred stone
& gaze out at the valley below

blue mountains drift off towards the sky line
mt. hiei in the distance
blue beyond

a sacred place right here
& now
before
again
& after

we toll the bell above the temple hall
hear it resound down throughout the forest full

higher still up stone steps
through sunbeams

at sekurabe ichi where the trail forks towards the summit
we meet the mountain patrol
up here cleaning shrines
collecting coins
bowing & praying at
each one as he goes

he points us towards kibune
showing us a side trail
not to be missed

it leads up & over
kinone sando
“the tree root pilgrim path”

through the sacred grove of pines:
the kinone michi

into filtered sunlight
we arrive at a glorious shrine

here amongst trees at the top of the mountain
all diffused in golden light
pine boughs overhead

osugi gongen-sya
housed around a giant sugi tree
of which is both a
buddha & a
kami shinto
god

a holy place
holy mountain
mount kurama
instilled with spirits
& ghosts
& holy prayers

mountain winds play in the treetops above

we descend the other side
through the forest & tree
& bird song

at soho-ga-duni-fudo-do
the image of fudo-do resides
the immovable king of light
from the buddhist cosmology

a water fall
jangling bells

at the next shrine more
candles
more bells

Mao the magic king being
resides here high up on the
mountain in
the
oku-noin mao-den

through a glade of tall
thin pines
switchbacks
& stone steps
we descend

views up the valley & down
into the village below

the sound of water
rushing down the hillsides

we come to the river
cross on a vermillion bridge
named nishi-mon

walk down the road
along the river bank
as cascades fall from the
rising forest around
pines
shrines
& hilltops

catch the train at kibune station
take us back to town

 

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