Day 54- The Chūgoku 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage, Japan – Nature Walks Around Daisen-Oki Mountain As A Form Of Meditation
Day 54- The Chūgoku 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage, Japan – Nature Walks Around Daisen-Oki Mountain as a Form of Meditation
In complete contrast to yesterday’s cold and rainy day, we woke up this morning to a sunny and warm day.
The different peaks of Mount Daisen, which we could not see at all yesterday due to the thick clouds and heavy rain, looked beautiful from our bedroom windows.
We had asked for a late breakfast at 8am, knowing that we would have a whole day to walk around the mountain area.
We did not plan to hike to one of the two summits, just to take shorter hikes to enjoy and to get to know the area.
After more than fifty days of walking every day, a rigorous summit hike did not sound so appealing to us.
Breakfast was simple and tasty, a home made soft tofu steamed in a bamboo basket, pickled ferns, stewed bamboo slices, miso soup, a salad with peanut sauce and rice with seaweed.
We walked up from Daisenji Temple to see the Ogamiyama Shinto Shrine.
The walk was along Japan’s longest natural stone forest path.
It is amazing how well kept it has remained throughout the years.
It is a beautiful forest path, with giant trees and ferns, rocks, moss and forest flowers.
From the shrine, we had a commanding panoramic view of the mountain and the far away Sea of Japan.
A woman told us that if we rub the head of the bronze horse located at the shrine, and then touch our hands to our faces, it will bring us healing and happiness.
We walked down along the “Kinmon gate,” a natural break in the lava rock in the middle of the river, that created a natural gate for the water to flow down.
Then we walked down and continued walking on to a boardwalk forest path.
It was more like an open air natural museum, lined with descriptions of the different butterflies, birds, flowers and different trees and vegetation growing on each level of elevation.
The owner of our guesthouse had packed for our lunch a bento box, which included some rice balls, pickles and a small jelly sweet.
We sat in a picnic shelter and ate our lunch, finishing our meal with some homemade cookies from the soy-milk shop in town.
Back in the village, we visited the natural history museum and saw how the mountain was formed from volcanic eruptions that started over a million years ago.
The mountain was and still is, in a slow continual process of formation.
It was nice to see so many hikers coming to climb Mt. Daisen today, the highest peak in the Chūgoku region (1,729 m above sea level).
There are two routes leading to two different summits.
One path starts in the village, which is already located at an elevation of 930 meters.
For the first half of the path to the summit, the walk is through one of the largest natural beech forests in western Japan.
From around the sixth station, the walk is amidst the alpine flora.
The full ascent to the summit and back can be a wonderful day trip of about six to seven hours round trip.
In August, there is a famous handcrafted umbrella festival in Daisen.
The handmade designed umbrellas are lit at night, and are placed along the stone path to Daisenji temple, and farther up to the shrine.
In winter there are several small ski resorts in the area.
There are plenty of hiking maps and activity listings in English available at the information center.
Even though we walked in Nature, it was really a resting day for us.
Tomorrow when we leave, we will have a long walk to get down toward our next temple.
We will not be able to make it all in one day, as it is about 43 Kilometers long. It includes some climbing up to the nearby ski resorts, and then a long, rolling downhill going northeast along some smaller peaks and then back to the sea.
We sat in a cafe in town, and saw lots of day-hikers out walking up to the temple, or coming back from their hikes.
We also saw a non-Japanese couple, who seemed to have camped in the area.
One of my regrets when we do a long pilgrimage, is that we do not have enough time to meditate.
Our days are really full, with walking and eating, bathing, planning, and sleeping, so that we do not have time to meditate each morning like we do when we are home.
When we are home, we meditate EVERY morning and try not to make any appointments early morning, so as to not miss our daily meditation.
But then, as I thought about how much I miss my morning meditation, I heard an inner Voice that said:
“Remember that walks in Nature can be as profound and empowering as meditating quietly while seated indoors.
Enjoy this journey to its fullest.
It will be over in the blink of an eye….”
With love and blessings,
Steps: 12,485 steps
Distance Walked: 9 Kilometers
Active Walking: 2.5 hours
Total Time: 4.5 hours
Total distance walked on the pilgrimage so far: 1066 Kilometers
Temples Visited: Temple #29, Daisenji Temple 大山寺, and Ogamiyama Shrine in Daisen Mountain
Accommodation: Shukubo Kansho-in Temple Sanrakuso, at the foot of Daisen Mountain.
A beautiful old traditional inn with Japanese style rooms, a good o’furu bath, fast internet and a delicious Shojin Ryori (vegetarian) Buddhist Cuisine for dinner and breakfast.