Day 47 – Visiting A Temple With An Onsen in Satsuma, and Talking To A Bamboo Forest While Climbing Three Mountains In The Rain, The Kyushu 108 Temple Pilgrimage, Japan

Day 47 – Visiting A Temple With An Onsen in Satsuma, and Talking To A Bamboo Forest While Climbing Three Mountains In The Rain, The Kyushu 108 Temple Pilgrimage, Japan

From our room, we could see that there were beautiful mountains all around us.
In every direction we looked, all we could see were more tall, green peaks.

This meant that in the next few days, until we walk out of this region, there will be many mountains to climb, and many mountain passes to cross.

Because we will be staying another night in this golf resort, we decided to ask for more futons or padding to be put on the mattresses.
Normally, I prefer Japanese style rooms with tatami rice mats and futons on the floor, but these rooms were fully booked.

The western style room we got hadqq hard lumpy mattresses.
I thought about not saying anything and enduring it like an ascetic pilgrim would, but my strained back and stiff neck said to me: “What are you, insane?
They either have it or they don’t.
If they have padding, why not use it and sleep well tonight?
Don’t be stupid and just ask!”

Our request was met with kindness and a very thick layer of thick foam was added to our beds, which were now so very comfortable.

It was a rainy and cool day, and we had shipped our raincoats ahead to a hotel we would be staying at in one week, so I asked the gods of the rain to hold off until we had finished our walking day.
Just in case, we did bring our umbrellas.

It is a four kilometer downhill to get out of the golf resort, and at the end of the day we will have to climb four kilometers back up the mountain to the resort.
Otherwise, the temple would have been very close to our resort.

Temple #48, Mt. Otoizumi Satsuma Yakushiji, is a very rural temple located in a small village called Okusatsuma, in the middle of the rice fields.
What makes it very unique is that the temple has a natural hot spring, and they built a bathhouse to allow visitors to soak in it.

It was also obvious that the temple was run by musicians and music lovers, because it was the first Buddhist temple we have ever visited that had a baby grand piano and a violin in it.
A sign outside the temple listed a schedule of concerts that were performed there.

The idyllic environment of this temple gave you the feeling that you were returning home.
We did not see anyone around, so we walked to the main hall, instead of knocking on the door of the house.

The main hall was open and we saw a set of red seals on the table, so we decided to stamp our own book and scroll.
Then we chanted and prayed.

The main statue of worship is a standing statue of Yakushi Nyorai, but it is small, only 13 centimeters tall.
It is believed to be a very spiritual Buddha, welcomed from Mt. Koyasan.
There is also a Fudo Myoo, and another Buddha, that is said to be a Buddha of all kinds of mysterious marriages, as well as a Buddha that heals relationships between men and women.
In an alcove in the temple, we saw white stone statues of a naked man and a naked woman kissing.
Not a sight you see often in temples or churches, but maybe you should….

There were also very big and interesting paintings hanging on the walls of the main hall, including paintings
of a Madonna looking woman dressed in black robes, another interesting and unconventional placement in a Buddhist temple.

The Hachiman god and the sacred tree in the back of the temple grounds are said to have been watching over the peace of the world for many years.
It is a unique temple that hopes to ease people’s troubles and diseases, when they come to pray to Yakushi, the healing Buddha.

The temple’s statement says:
“If you have enough time, you can enter the hot springs in the precincts.
I would like you to stop your pilgrimage for a while, and enjoy the hot spring under the blessing of God and Buddha.”

I took off my shoes and looked inside the Onsen.
There were two rooms for men and for women.
There was a wall with shelves and baskets for people to leave their clothes while they bathed.
But there was no water in the hot spring baths.

I asked Jules that if the baths were full, would he have agreed to take a soak.
He said yes, he would have, even just as a novelty, because we have never been to a temple that had an Onsen in it.
I felt the same as Jules. We do have a good Onsen in the golf resort, which I used just this morning and will be using again tonight, but I still would have taken a soak here.

From there, we started to walk back to our resort.
We stopped at a community center that was closed, but had a bench in the shade, to have our hot tea and some food that we had brought with us.

Then we started climbing two mountain passes before climbing up to the summit of the third mountain, where our hotel is located.
As I struggled with the ascent on one of the passes, we walked by a bamboo forest.
It was a forest that had very thick bamboo, growing densely together.

Bamboo is one of the symbols for endurance.
They bend in the wind instead of breaking, and they stay alive for a very long time after being cut, if you keep them indoors.
It is also almost impossible to eradicate them.
Even if you cut them all, new shoots will sprout and being fast growing, they will become a forest again in no time.

My gardener in New Zealand told me that when he tried to get rid of the bamboo on his property, he had to burn it three times, and still they grew.
I never understood why he wanted to get rid of the bamboo forest on his property.
I LOVED my bamboo grove that I had on our property in New Zealand, and always loved walking on the fallen leaves, and listening to the clinking of the bamboo when the wind passed through them.

Because it was drizzling and wet, my shoes were not getting a good grip on the slippery path.
I had to concentrate on each step, trying not to lose my balance.
As I found myself struggling to climb up the steep mountain path, I spoke to the bamboo forest that surrounded us.

I looked at the trees and asked them:
“Please tell me your secret of endurance…. Tell me how you survive, even when people cut you down…..You stay alive for so many years, enduring fires, storms, wind and time….. Tell me, please teach how to endure….I feel so small and weak….”

A clear voice sounded in my head.
It was the Spirit of the bamboo answering my call for help.

It said: “There is no secret to endurance.
We are at the mercy of every human cleaver.
They cut our babies and then cook them.
They called them…. I think they call them ‘Bamboo Shoots?’
You are doing fine!
You know how to endure.
You show up every morning with your backpack and you move slowly forwards.
You are enduring.
Give yourself a break.
You are doing fine.
We are doing fine too.
We are not individuals like you imagine us to be.
We are ONE.
Our base are the roots we spread across these mountains.
From our very source, our roots, sprout up bamboo trees.
But they are like hair on a human head.
They are not endowed with individual identities.
We are one.
Just as you human beings are one, but you just forgot it….
You are all ONE Spirit
One Child Of God….
Only appearing as individuals… speaking different languages and dreaming different dreams…
You are ALL ONE…
And nothing you do can change that…
Not war,
Not fire,
Not storms,
Not death….”

So I endured.
We had to count our steps as we climbed up the steepest part, but we made it and the weather held off until we were comfortably in our room drinking our tea.

With love and unity,

Stats: 20,150 steps
Today’s walk: 14 km
Kilometers walked to date: 791
Temples visited:
Temple #48 Mt. Otoizumi Satsuma Yakushiji

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