Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Where We Live
A story to take your mind off Scrabble at least for a few minutes. Here it goes.
My grandmother has always been afraid of graveyards. A deep, inexplicable fear which prevented her from ever going to a graveyard alone or from passing one by at night. Now we live surrounded by graveyards. There are four temples, each with its own graveyard, on our street. The moment I step off the train, I smell the incense and within minutes I’m on the sacred street, which feels amazingly peaceful and safe. If I met any ghosts, I was not aware of it.
Our temple (yes, after three years here I think we can say “our” temple, despite the more than obvious difference between our religious systems) is called Gatsuzōji, more precisely 青陽山月蔵寺 and it has a 500-year history.
The Temple of the Hidden Moon. The Dwelling of the Gods on the Mountain of Eternal Spring. Now we are part of its history. We were here when the little boy who will (hopefully) become its 44th head priest came into this world and we shared all of his birthday cakes.
We traveled around the world with its head priest.
We took part in its annual events. I helped make o-hagi, and cold somen noodles, and bento boxes.
We witnessed ascetic practices and helped with the cleaning before and after the event.
Now we are all very proud that Gatsuzōji has become the newest attraction in the tourist circuit of Sakai City and almost 2000 people visited it in only five days.
The leaves of the maple tree are turning red. Autumn again, my favourite season. Don’t avoid us if you’re ever in Sakai!