Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hidden Shrines of Ise 7 - Going to Haku-san

Coming home from Ise, I was hoping to relax on the days off from work. After three days of traveling, I was surprised to find myself not tired at all. I must have visited around fifty shrines including the small omiya. I only sent gratitude at the shrines. This might be the reason why I am feeling so fulfilled.

I put the ken-barai-fuda from all three shrines (Gegū, Naigū, Izawa-no-miya) on my altar, and just when I thought to take a deep breath, my family calls me all of the sudden to say that they want to go to Haku-san. After driving for over a thousand kilos, I was hesitant. But they insisted on going and I thought it might be a good idea to end my journey by going to Haku-san. So we did.

We first went to Heisen-ji Hakusan-jinjya (平泉寺白山神社). It was a while since I had visited this shrine. The fresh green seaweeds looked beautiful after surviving the long cold winter days. The day we visited this shrine, the local people were gathering to clean the shrine. Our visit ended clean and pure. Nothing odd happened and it went smoothly.

The next shrine we visited was Hakusan Chukyo-jinjya (白山中居神社). The road toward this shrine run on the side of a river and the other side was cliffs. It was very narrow. The car navigation system did not have this shrine on the map, so I had to use my instinct.

We found the shrine and parked the car. We looked up to see the giant trees on the sides of the sando path as we walked through. On top of the trees, I saw two tengus watching over. They were the kenzokus of this shrines. It has been a while to see tengus. Last time I saw them was at the Tamaoki-jinjya in Nara. Tengus are nature spirits. So as the traffic increases they seem to disappear. One should be cautious with shrines with tengus on the watch. If you do anything disrespectful, you might injure yourself. I told my family to watch their steps and to walk slowly.

In the middle of the path towards the shrine, there was a giant rock in the middle of the road. When I saw this rock, a vision immediately came to me. In the ancient time, a disrespectful man came into this sando path. The tengus saw this man and threw this giant rock. The man died ofcourse held under the rock. We walked around the rock trying to see if we could find the bones of the man.

The path is a steep downhill. The natural spring water is coming down the hill so the stone steps are wet and slippery. If you are not a good walker, it might be wise to take the car all the way to the torii gate. The path is not and easy welcoming path.

When we got to the main shrine climbing the steep stone steps, a gūji, a Shinto priest, was getting ready for an Oharai. His grandchild is holding his kimono walking around with him. When I saw the gūji’s face, I could see that he is a true priest. It is hard to explain by words, but I can feel the aura of a man of dignity who is serving for a righteous god.

Ikashite-itadaite Arigato-gozaimasu

Thank you for letting us live

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