Day 1 – The Tokyo 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage

Day 1 – The Tokyo 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage

Today we walked 23 kilometers and visited 7 Kannon temples.
The weather was glorious, a bit crispy-cold, but with a beautifully warm sun.
The cherry trees lining many streets and parks have only buds or small blooms, and are not flowering yet.

We are having a fabulous time.
The anxiety we felt while at home over the Coronavirus, fueled by the doom and gloom news and the global panic, is now melting away from our minds.

Instead of reading the news, which makes us shrink in fear, we spent the day walking between temples, praying at each temple, chanting the Buddha’s Heart Sutra, and having a really great time.

There is no doubt in our minds that coming here has been a better choice than staying at home and nervously following the news.
Things are going crazy at home, and even people who for years seemed to be steeped in spirituality, are losing track of their guiding beliefs.

For those people, I would like to remind them:
Your journey through time and apace, is NOT RANDOM.
EVERYTHING that seems to happen to you by chance has been gently planned by your Higher Self or God, who guides you gently towards enlightenment.

If left to your own devices, you would just cater to your basic human needs and be content to waste away your time in meaningless pursuits.
Career, money, food, sex, comfort and power are what the people of the world want.

If they are sick, they want to heal so they can continue to chase the basics.
But you are a glorious being who will never be content until you KNOW your own divine identity!

We started at Temple #1 of the Edo Period Tokyo pilgrimage, called Sensō-ji 浅草寺.

It is the oldest temple in Tokyo, established in the year 645 AD.
It is a big temple and the main attraction in the Asakusa neighborhood.

It is surrounded by small streets with shops selling Japanese souvenirs, Kabuki theaters, fit ricksha runners offering tours, traditional foods and gifts.

Yes, there were many less tourists, which I am sure made the rows of sellers less happy, but it was fun for us.
We bought a book to collect calligraphy stamps (go-shuin) in our 33 temples, and chatted with a monk and the assisting staff about doing the Edo period pilgrimage on foot.

Their eyes got wide in disbelief when we told them we planned to continue and walk the whole Saigoku pilgrimage next.

From there we continued on and visited six more temples.
While walking, we passed by many streets and neighborhoods which we would not have seen otherwise.

Walking is really good for the soul.
We saw children in playgrounds (since the schools are closed due to the Coronavirus), tiny little old eateries, kitchen shops selling traditional knives and kitchen tools we coveted and decided to buy before we fly back home at the end of our journey.

in a city park, I gave money to a homeless man, sitting on the dirty pavement full of decades of germs, wearing a surgical mask.
He was so grateful for my love offering of money, he put his palms together, saluting me in his delight.

Many of the temples on this pilgrimage were partially or completely destroyed in World War II.
The main Buddha or Bodhisattva statues, which are usually situated in the altars, were buried deep underground in order to protect them from the air raids and bombshells that were dropped on the city.

Most of the original temple buildings did not survive the war, but some of the ancient fragile wood statues did.

If a fast spreading disease seems to remind us that we are all connected, how can you justify wars, and the killing of one another…..
What can start in a remote place in China quickly spreads to all parts of the earth.
We are all connected for eternity.
One human family with actions that spread across the globe, touching all continents and all people.

The main temple’s statues are shown to the public either once per month or once per year.
Local people come to see the monthly or annual unveiling of the ancient Buddha.

As we walked between temples, we crossed an island surrounded by a lake full of dormant water lilies, with a beautiful temple that is dedicated to the goddess of fortune.

We saw men feeding the turtles and birds on the lake, as well as healing them.
We saw a man plucking a bird with a leg injury out of the air, and with the help of his friends, he proceeded to remove a thorn from its leg.
The bird seemed to know that it was being loved and cared for, and it submitted willingly to the manhandling.

Old cherry trees stretched their gnarly branches over the lake,.
These trees are home to many kind of birds, birds that care not for the fears of men.
They live in contentment and enjoy their nakedness, knowing full well that they have a cherished place in all creation.

When it was time for lunch, we had a very good southern Indian lunch, in a popular basement eatery.
The cooks did not wear masks and all customers, even those who came in wearing a mask, took them off and enjoyed their meals.

Jules showed me his calloused hands, with skin so dry and bleeding knuckles.
I asked him if he had banged his hand and how his skin had gotten to be so terribly dry.
He told me that it is from washing his hands, as per the coronavirus scare instructions.

I was amazed and rubbed the back of his hands with the coconut chapstick that I had in my bag.
I even found myself asking him not to wash his hands so much.
If he is scared, a few spritzes of sanitizing spray on the front of his hands will do well.
I also gave him a small bottle of body cream, to put on his hands after washing them.

We walked all day, but we did not visit the temples by their sequential numbers, because we tried to make the most direct route between the clusters of temples, ignoring their numbers on the Edo pilgrimage.

We did not have lots of rest time, because visiting the temples took time, and walking in a city is slowed down by traffic lights, cars and bicycles.

We had dinner at a vegan place near our hotel.
Their Buddha bowl, made of brown rice and roasted vegetables, was delicious.

It was a full day and we are still feeling jet lagged, so we collapsed and slept in peace for the first time since this coronavirus scare started, which threatened to cancel our plans.
We LOVE being pilgrims, and feel the most at home when we are roaming the earth.

With love to you,

Daily stats:

Steps walked- 30,517
22.46 km. walked
Active walking time – 5.5 hours
Total walking time today – 10 hours, from 9:30am – 7:30 pm

Temples visited:

Temple #1
Sensō-ji 浅草寺

Temple #2

Temple #3
Okannonji Temple

Temple #4
Ekōin Temple

Temple #5

Temple #6
Kiyomizu Kannon-dō

Temple #7

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