Sunday, October 30, 2005

Next Adventure

Well, orders have arrived, tickets are purchased and we will be home, the same day we leave here. This weekend, we went out and shopped, getting some things for the motorhome, gifts and Roy found another clock for our mantel. (That makes about an even half dozen, but what can I say, the man likes old clocks.) At least this one was made in Japan. The last one he bought here, is German I am sure. None of them work very well.....
I am very disappointed. I ordered a Buddhist Chant off ebay, won it for $4.99 and the guys said that it was returned damaged from the post office. What a bunch of crap. I bet he never had it in the first place or found another buyer. Oh well, I will keep trying.
So most of our time is going to be spent cleaning out and sorting and getting ready for the big move. We do have three more trips planned. We are going on a day trip with the City of Iwakuni, (Its a Friendship trip) to a little town that is noted for its crafts. We are also going apple picking next week and going to ride in an antique steam engine/train thru the mountains and best for last, we are going to go to our last and final Sumo match. I am going to take lots of yen so I can get some great sumo stuff, to go with my great sumo doll collection. I have 4 or 5 dolls now and I love them all.
And then we will be home and busy with the holidays. My bud is coming up for Christmas and we have a lot planned for when he comes. I am thinking about throwing a Retirement party for myself at the same place that we had a goodbye party for me in 1995. It would be fitting.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

This is a picture of our room, at night the futons were laid out by the staff. A snack was waiting for us when we arrived, cookies and hot tea. Posted by Picasa


Kukai, known as Kobosaishi through his posthumous honorific name, sailed to China at the age of 31 in the year 804. Posted by Picasa In the ancient capital of Chang'an, he studied Tantric Buddhism under priest Keika and was granted a master title. After returning from China in 806, he had been spreading the Shingon (True Word) Sect of Buddhism.
He founded Mt. Koya (Koyasan) as a religious retreat in 816, when the then Emperor Saga granted him the land. It is said that this was the start of Kongobuji Temple.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Taste of Mt Koya

Buddhist are vegetarian and so our three meals were all vegetarian. I must admit that by the end of the trip, I was thinking about big juicy hamburgers and carnage. But the meals were very good.
Dinner (pictured) was about 10 different items, maybe even 12. The tofu, which is generally made from Soy beans was made from Sesame seeds and had a very creamy taste and texture. (Well, as much taste as you can get from tofu) I bought some dried to bring home and if it doesn’t get confiscated by customs, we will have it at home. The tofu was served in a soy sauce and with the obligatory wasami. There were pickled things and noodle dishes, and some were delicious and others just okay, and still others not edible to my tongue. Of course there was the rice bowl and the green tea. That was funny, for just at $6.00 you could by one large beer or some hot or cold sake. That’s expensive beer, but those who order it were not disappointed. Dessert was melon and a slice of persimmon that is grown in that area and just delicious. I was more than full and the only thing that was difficult was sitting on the floor. The paper cone that you see is a hot noodle dish with mushrooms and veggies and it boiled right in the paper. It looked pretty but not much taste.

Breakfast was about the same except we had Miso soup. This miso didn’t taste like the normal soup that I have had in the past and the interpreter said that it was because Miso is generally made from fish sauce and this was not. It was good and I wasn’t disappointed and enjoyed all my meals. (But you know me, I try anything once and sometimes more than once.)

(Just to tell you about the cost of living in Japan, I went out and bought some Persimmons and 5 cost me just under $5. but they had some better ones for $10.00. $2 a piece for a persimmon. Amazing. I am going apple picking next week and if its anything like last years, the apples which are Fuji's, are sweet, juicy and also about 2 bucks each. I spent $12.00 on a bag last year and I am sure this year will be no different. )

The Sounds of Mt Koya

We got to attend a Buddhist something, ceremony might be the correct term. We were led into this darken room (and in the back were some chairs which I took advantage of) A young Buddhist priest (or novice, I am not sure which as he was dressed in blue and not the normal orange) spoke for awhile but not speaking Japanese I could only listed and look around at the peaceful room. Then the lights went out and only three candles on the alter lit the room and a priest came in and the two started a chant, many of the other participants also chanted, and bells rang, and gongs sounded and a feeling of peace enveloped us. It lasted about a half hour and then we were awarded certificates for attending. (Needless to say, I went to ebay and ordered a copy of some Buddhist Chants.)
That wasn’t the last time we were treated to chanting, it was just our first experience. Later that night, after dinner, we were taken to an auditorium and again treated to Buddhist music and chants and again, I loved the feeling that came over me. This time the chants were accompanied by a cello, violin and different percussion instruments. Sunday morning we were also again treated to a morning service and again listed to the beautiful chants. We even got to participate in this one, and I found out why, there was a collection box there (See I guess all religions are pretty much the same.)

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Sights of Mt Koya

I mentioned below that our Buddhist Adventure was a treat to all five senses. Not only were the eyes blessed with beauty and interest and ok, so we also got some rain in them, but our other senses were also stimulated beyond the norm.
I need to tell you first about the drive UP the mountain. Thank goodness we had a excellent bus driver because Japanese roads are well, narrow might be an overstatement. This road would hardly qualify as a one-lane road in the US and this bus was huge, but our bus driver took those switchbacks with a skill that I wish I would possess. He was good. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the top, I was sick and I was sitting at the front of the bus, those in back were turning shades of green. We were glad to get out, even in the rain.
We by the way were a lot of great folks from Iwakuni Marine Corp Base. Sallie was there; Belinda, our librarian; teachers from the school; Marines from HQ and of course Yugi our tour guide who admitted to being a little nervous for this one. (I don't know why, the man has never lost anyone yet, but this was a first for IT&T)Did I mention Saturday it rained, and rained and rained, but we all had umbrellas so it didn't seem to matter a great deal, we got a little wet but that was fine. We were out of the bus....We first toured Kongojuii, a huge Temple that was built by a warlord for his mother. It is absolutely huge and the gardens were raked gravel and rocks, my kind of garden, that’s for sure.From there we went across the street and from there our ears/hearing sense took over.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Buddhist Adventure

We are home from our Buddhist Adventure and I have so much to tell you, I feel absolutely overwhelmed. We saw and did so much; one letter couldn't do it justice. Each sense was stimulated. The sights were magnificent, the sounds were serene, the smells were not of this earth, the tastes were different and the feel was calming and stimulating all at the same time. We went to Mt Koya, a Buddhist RetreatMt Koya is to Buddhist in Japan, the pinnacle of the religious pyramid. First I know you know this about the Japanese and religion. Japan has two major religions, Shintoism and Buddhism, with Christianity following a distant third. If you ask a Japanese person if they are Buddhist, they will tell you they are, but they can and often are also Shinto and even Christian (This must really drive Christian missionaries nuts, as they think they have a convert and find that really don't) They do not believe that you just must practice one religion exclusively and they don't even understand that concept. They marry in the Shinto church, they bury their dead in the Buddhist tradition and celebrate Christmas all at the same time, and it is all very logical to them.Anyway, Mt Koya is a beautiful mountaintop, where Esoteric Buddhism is practiced. (I hope you don't want an explanation of that, because while I learned a lot about the practice, I didn't learn anything about the different nuances of Buddhism, that study would probably take the rest of my life)Esoteric Buddhism was started by Kukai, (Kobo Daishe is what he is called now) 774-835. Kukai was from an aristocrat family but turned to Buddhism while in University. Basically, he went to China to study Buddhism and returned to bring his teachings to the Japanese. Upon arrival in Japan he was met by a young man with two dogs, a white dog and a black dog and the young man told him the dogs would guide him to the mountain, which they did, they took him to the base of Mt Koya and there he met an old woman. (I don't really know if I understood what the old woman had to do with the story, but it is significant in some way)Kukai turned out to be a great leader and he attracted a large following and now Mt Koya has many temples, cemeteries, monasteries, etc. His mausoleum is there, as he wanted to be buried along side a river deep in the mountains. Now his mausoleum is at the top of a huge cemetery where most of Japans great and near great families have their monuments. The older part of the cemetery consists of old Samurai families, the newer section has monuments from the wars, Nissan has a huge monument dedicated to employees who died of injuries on the job, and just rich families who can afford it. There are over a half million monuments at this cemetery, which gives you some idea of the Japanese economy. I understand that what they do is divide the ashes of the deceased and one part is buried on Mt Koyo and the other part is buried in a cemetery in the person’s hometown.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Weekend Mt. Koya Trip

LOL, Recieved the following memo from the group that is sponsoring this weekends trip to the Buddhist Temple

Temple Lodging Information
We will stay at one of the temple lodging facilities on
Mt. Koya. These temple lodgings have been opened recently for tourists because
fewer Buddhist monks want to experience Ascetic (very stict) practive these
days. Therefore there is no strict discipline to follow (We heard about
the Monks hitting folks with sticks)
however, there are few important things to
keep in mind.

1) There is no specific dress code. However it is
not appropriate to wear short sleeve shirts or short pants.

2) The rooms are separate for men and women (even for
married coples).

3) Meals (dinner, breakfast and lunch) are only
vegetarian food with tea or water. However, you can order Sake or Beer for a
charge at dinnertime (Soft Drinks are not available)

4) Dinner starts promptly at 5:30pm and Breakfast
starts promptly at 7:30am. Everyone is expected to eat

5) You are allowed to bring your own sacks (snacks?)
and drinks (there are no vending machines). However these items may only be
consumed in the privacy of your room.

6) While you are having dinner, employees of the
lodging facility will make your bed (Futon)

7) The public bathing facilities are only available
from 1600 to 2300 (there is nothing available in the mornign) Women and men's
bathrooms are separate. Please bring your own shampoo, soap, toothbrush,
and bath towel.

8)Both Japanese and Western style toilets are

9) Zen practice (meditation) is held early in the
mornng, 30 minutes before breakfast. Your nightgown, pajamas, or the Yukatas
provided by the lodging facility are not appropriate for this

10) There is no safety box for your valuables
11) Silence Time is from 2300 until the next morning
around 0500.

12 The Yukata (night wear ((robe))) furnished by the
facility is for use in your room only. Please leave it in your room before
checking out.

I am really looking forward to this trip, but a little worried. I am not much for public bathing.... so we will see how that goes. I might just pack a bunch of wetwipes and forget the whole thing.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Maybe I need to explain about the roof tiles

I spoke below about roof tiles and thought that maybe I should explain why Roy is fasinated by them. It seems that the old families in Japan each had their own roof tile design so that is why there are so many different ones. Above in another design from Iwakuni families.

I am not sure this qualifies as an interesting picture, but there are few blogs that feature roof tiles so may be I can class the picture as unique if nothing else

This tile adorns a thatched roof.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Just hit me

OMG, I just read another persons travel blog and okay, if mine get that bad would someone please hit me. The first word of every sentence was "I". It was scary, and the pictures .. Pretty.. But much the same.
Pictures... We all take pictures and what do we do with them all?. All right, raise your hand, how many of you have a shoe box full of pictures that you never look at. Roy just bought a $1000.00 camera and is talking about buying a $1000 dollar zoom lens to go with it. So, what are we going to do with all those pictures and who is going to look at them and how many sunsets can a person take AND when its all said and done, in a year from now, heck a month from now, heck tomorrow, there will be another sunset and I won't know one cloud from another. LOL Dear daughter, it looks as if your going to not only inherit the mess in the garage, but your going to have to dump a million pictures of stuff that you don't even know what or where or who they are.) As it is, he takes picture of stuff and I haven't a clue what they are when I get home. "Roy, what is this a picture of?" "Oh, that a roof tile, isn't it cool"? But I thought we had enough pictures of roof tiles?" Well, this one is special cause its on a roof that we haven't taken a picture of before"! Actually, I am kidding but we do have a dozen roof tile pictures.
Okay, I promise, if I post a picture, it will be of something that you have never seen before, or something truly remarkable. No sunsets. No pictures of pretty mountains or Aunt Tillys back yard, or a wild flower surrounded by rocks, or rosy rear end or even roof tiles, regardless of how interested you are in roof tiles. Also, kill me if I start to post pictures of our motorhome or worse the inside of our motorhome. (I suppose if I have one of those $150.000 dollar mansions on wheels then I would post a picture of it, but ours is Ms Cheapo Casita and hopefully she is camera shy but if you want to see a picture of her google Pursuit by Georgie Boy and check it out. Better yet, call me and we will come and visit and I'll give you a private tour. (Yep Cousin Linda, you're my first visit....)

When we first move out of metropolitan USA in 1974 we moved to Ft Leonardwood MO. I had never lived in a town without at least 2 million people and suddenly I find myself in rural American. I might as well have been in Mongolia because while we all spoke almost the same language, I just didn't know about rural life.. I remember one day Jean and I were reading the local paper and I was almost in shock because the big stories of the day was that Trudy Jones had company over for Sunday Dinner and she served chicken and rice. I was laughing so hard I nearly pee'd my pants. I'm sorry, in San Francisco or LA or even Guadalajara, the big story would be a crime or a politician or even some gossip about a famous person, but that anyone served chicken and rice would never have made any page of the San Francisco Chronical...
Now Jean was a new friend that I made when I moved to Missouri and she spoke some "rural". She taught me about 'cracklins and boiled peanuts (Expect I thought she was saying bald peanut and that made no sense to me at all. What was a bald peanut?. She had to buy me a bag and of course I became addicted immediately, and you can bet I am going to time my next visit to bald peanut season) and I taught her about tacos and French bread.
Were was I going with this. Wow, old age is horrible, brain fart, I have no idea what the point was going to be. Maybe that some of the travel blogs that I read are like rural Americana and I should just keep my mouth shut. I just don't want to sound like a second grader.... and I know that If I tried to keep a running log of our travels you would hear a lot of boring stuff. "Today we put 30 miles on the rig and visited "big tree" and boy was big tree, a very very big tree with pretty green leaves"! Stick my finger down my throat.

Now I know that your all excited to hear about our trip to Mt Koya and the stay with the Buddhist monks next week. I hope I make the bus as it leaves at 0500. Grrrr.