During our travels today, we toured some of Kyoto, the oldest city of Japan. With culture and heritage dating back some 600 years. The buildings and land are preserved in the correct manner as to display the true culture of the Japanese and their heritage.
Today we stopped at the majestic golden temple (the word for Japan is Majestic, everything is simply majestic!)! It is surrounded by pristine gardens and the sill mirror lake. During our walks, the heritage and surrounds are too overwhelming to take note of the names. Approaching a shrine, see below, we have been taught to be quiet and respect the deity that stays within.
There was a moment today when the Contingent organizer, Theo, and I went off together and without needing to purchase or stop at any of the shops, we walked through and absorbed the culture as much as possible. Simply taking the correct turns, we headed up and up a hill side. Straddled with shops and curios representing the culture of the Japanese. Low and behold a shrine near the top of the hill.
Approaching the shine, we came across a couple of ladies in traditional dress, some that had gone the full way with the make-up and others that just wore the gown. We kept climbing and slowly but surely reached the top.
Noticing an area where people take off their shoes and enter down through a stairwell. We thought we’d go see! What we thought was the shrine or back end of the shrine might get us closer to the deity. Removing our shoes, we entered down some stairs, into a dark room. Completely blind of what’s ahead, how close you are to the person in front of you, and the cool smooth rock patterns below your now bare feet. Initially the dark is overwhelming, and disorientating, but 30 seconds into the walk, being able to find a wall either side of you, means you on the only route possible.
The darkness is now nothing. Your senses are in overdrive. Your ears pick up the slightest of noises, and your feet feel the patterns in the floor. Completely in another frame of mind, you are thoughtless. Blank, like the darkness in front of you. The sensation of your body is exhilarating, you have a natural head rush, body feels light and energized. You just needed to notice your true state. Now 3 minutes down the passage of darkness, there is light. The most peaceful light appears from the ceiling, shining down onto a rock. The rock is engraved with a symbol, a representation of the deity. You can feel the size of the room, the people moving in it, the person behind you and the presence that this light brings. I placed my hand on the rock and took a moment to feel and be in that space. True to the earth and the ground I was walking on, I headed for the exit door. This I found without seeing, phenomenal! The ability to feel for the exit, without your hands, eyes or ears. I took a couple steps through. Putting our shoes back on, and breathe back in our lungs, we were shocked yet satisfied with the experience we just had.
Something we knew, nobody else on the contingent would have explored that far for the experience.
Every shrine needs it’s respect, much like any religion, but the motion of bowing to the deity, is humbling.
Tomorrow is Jamboree time! The Pre-Tour is over and what an amazing Pre-Tour it has been.
Till then, Chris
PS: I don’t have any pictures of the shrine we visited, you’ll have to see it for yourself. We weren’t allowed to take pictures.