Day 15 – The Chūgoku 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage, Japan – Daisho-in Temple, in the town of Miyajima, on the Beautiful Island of Itsukushima
The stretch of nice weather we have been enjoying is forecast to continue for a few more days.
It was a pleasure to pack my backpack this morning, after leaving half of its contents in storage at our hotel in Hiroshima, until we finish walking this pilgrimage.
We checked out of the hotel and walked south about 6 Kilometers to the Ferry Terminal.
The many ferries that use the terminal run very efficiently, just like the JR trains.
It was a short ferry ride on the Seto Inland Sea, and we arrived in the town of Miyajima, on the island of Itsukujima.
Miyajima is a very charming seaside town, located on the northwestern side of this small island.
It has been settled for a very long time.
Many day trippers come over from Hiroshima, to enjoy this unique island.
And it is indeed a very unique island.
The island is famous for its ancient floating Jinja shrine, with its vermillion covered walkways and thatched roofs.
It is also famous for its beautiful floating Torii gate, its old Buddhist temples and its vibrant shopping street, Omotesando.
From the ferry terminal, we walked along the Omotesando (shopping street), full of cafes, tea houses, souvenirs, famous local sweets, ice cream shops, eateries selling local grilled oysters and conger eel, and all sorts of traditional goods for good luck.
There were wild mangy looking brown deer everywhere.
They are used to getting fed by the tourists and are not afraid of people.
Unfortunately, despite signs asking everyone not to feed the wild deer, they are fed junk food by the tourists, and it shows in their patchy fur, their bald spots, infections and broken horns.
Like the cows roaming the city streets in India, I saw a deer chewing and swallowing a whole plastic bag.
We joined the flood of tourists who were all enjoying the bright and sunny day, and walked towards Daisho-in temple, temple #14 on our pilgrimage.
Daisho-in was built in the year 1200 on the slopes of Mount Misen.
It is possible to hike on the many walking paths in this mountain, if you have the time.
There is even a ropeway to take you to the summit, but the temple itself is accessible by a short walk from the bustling tourist town.
It is a stunning temple complex with many halls and pagodas, shrines and amazing gardens, sloping up the mountainside.
There was so much to see and admire, that we spent hours there.
Under the main hall there was a totally dark cave that we walked, holding on to the left wall as our guide in the dark.
In the middle of the tunnel, there were beautiful engraved small images of the Goddess Kannon and the Buddha.
The walk in the dark tunnel is symbolic of our journey on earth, in which we move through dark illusions into the light.
It is a journey that requires much trust and not relying on our five senses, which are constantly translating the world for us.
There was a hall full of thousands of Fudo Myo-o, and a garden with 500 Rakans (Arahats), sculpted out of stone.
There is a walkway with 33 Kannon images.
Beside the sculptures of the 33 Kannon, was a rounded shiny mirror.
Above it a sign said: “By looking in this mirror, you will not see how you look or your face and body, but you will see your current state of mind!”
I thought this was very wise and very true always.
When we look at a mirror, we always see our current state of mind reflected there, not how we look.
This is because we do not see ourselves objectively.
If we did see ourselves objectively as we are in truth, we will see glowing lights pulsating there, not skin, hair and flesh.
There is a large dark hall under the hill, illumined by hundreds of glowing lanterns and a thousand seated Bodhisattvas.
We walked around it in awe.
We left Daisho-in, only because we wanted to see the rest of the town before it closed.
Many places begin to close at 4-5PM, as the island empties itself of tourists.
We visited the ancient Hokoku Shinto Shrine hall, built in 1587 from huge timber logs, overlooking the sea.
We saw the five story pagoda built in 1407 and walked along many of the streets and canals in town.
We had tea at the Starbucks and saw the many varieties of fillings for the Momiji grilled cookies, a famous specialty of the island.
By sunset, when it was low tide, we saw many people digging for small clams in the sands by the floating Torii gate.
These clams are cooked and are served on top of steamed rice.
My knee is still very sore, and I am walking with difficulty.
I look at the many people who limp, have arthritic knees or barely walk, with much sympathy.
In fact, I cannot tell you how many people I saw today who have difficulties in walking.
Despite myself, I started thinking that maybe I have something more serious than I thought…
We had a good Kaiseki dinner in our hotel, with a large variety of dishes featuring local specialties.
Then we soaked in the public baths.
Despite climbing up and down hundreds of steps today with my achy knee, the day still felt like a rest day.
It is easy to see why people love coming to this lovely island, and why Daisho-in is such a special and venerated Shingon temple.
If my knee were not achy, this pilgrimage would be a real joy, since the temples we have visited thus far were all wonderful, and going to visit them got us to see some stunning places.
Like the Buddha’s Heart Sutra says, there are no legs…..and thus there is no knee…… and thus there is no pain in the knee….
The Course In Miracles says that “God did not create Arthritis or Osteoporosis, and thus it is NOT REAL!”
The book I have been listening to, as we walk long and tedious days, “The Book Of Mastery,” channeled by Yale educated Paul Selig, says:
“Nothing in this world is real!”
It is all shared mass illusions, that you all agree to.”
But I know that there is a way to break the “spell” and to see the Real world beyond the illusions of diseases and pain….
I KNOW it… but I need to experience it in my own flesh and blood…
My love and blessings to you,
Steps: 20,028 steps
Distance Walked: 15 Kilometers
Active Walking: 4 hours
Total Time: 8.5 hours including visiting the temple and sightseeing in Miyajima
Total distance walked on the pilgrimage so far: 303 Kilometers
Temples Visited: Temple #14 – Daisho-in Temple, in Miyajima on Itsukushima
Accommodation: Kikunoya Ryokan Hotel in Miyajima.
A charming mid size hotel with public baths and a nice Kaiseki dinner and breakfast.