Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Kindness of Strangers, Part 2

(One of two temples on the side of the hill visible from the street.)

From the Buddhist temple ruins, I could see a reddish temple building sitting on the side of the hill 3-4 blocks away.  With nothing better to do, I headed out to get a closer look.  The neighborhood here is typical of older Japanese villages, with no straight streets, and meandering little walking paths running between the houses in obviously random fashion.  Again, exactly like something out of a text adventure game.  After about 5 minutes, I was on the street running up the hill to the temple. Little shrines lie scattered in various crannies around the main building.

Next to one set of shrines, concrete steps about 1 foot wide run up along the wall to some kind of shed or something 20 feet up at the top of the hill.  Thinking that I'd like to see what was up there, I started up the steps, and suddenly realized two things - first that the path was only one foot wide and 7 feet above a concrete carpark; and second, that this was absolutely the stupidest thing I could be doing with a backpack on one shoulder, a cane in one hand and the camera in the other, on a still-healing foot and no place to turn around.  Back on the ground in a cold sweat, I explored the shrines in the crannies I could easily reach, took a photo of the front of the temple, and got ready to go back down the hill.

(The Fukoshoji Buddhish temple ruins are within the big clump of trees in the center of the photo.)

(Looking out from the temple towards Kinko bay, just south of Sakura-jima.)

(Front of the temple.)

(Fountain for washing your hands before praying.)

(Prayer nook at the back of the temple.  You may be able to tell that the eyes of the statues either have little pieces of brass, or yellow reflective paint, to glow in the sunrise.)

About this time, a high school boy walked up the road and headed for the front of the temple.  The Buddhist priest came out to greet the boy, saw me, and invited me inside.  I was about to beg off, but he said something about drinking some cold tea, and I felt I couldn't turn down his hospitality.  The three of us went in, and the priest showed me the correct way to offer a devotional candle, light some incense, and then pray.  We then went to a small table in one corner and talked for a while.  Mainly, it was me answering questions about where I'm from, why I'm in Kagoshima, and why I'd walk 5 kilometers to this place.  He mentioned that Kagoshima actually grew up from this particular neighborhood, so there are some interesting buildings in the area.  Eventually, he indicated that it was time for me to leave, so I went outside to put my shoes back on.  Before I could go any further, the priest reappeared with a half-liter bottle of cold tea and two snack cakes to give me.

(Detail of one carving at the far end of the prayer nook.)

Finally, I went back down the hill.  At this point, I knew where I was, at Hasshoji temple.  I'd overshot the Saigo cemetery by a kilometer, and I had two choices.  I could continue northeast, heading towards the bay in the direction of Senganen for a collection of memorial markers, or I could start heading back the way I came.  Because the Christian cemetery was relatively close, I made my way back to the Buddhist temple ruins.

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