This morning I awoke to beautiful stillness. The only sound was my own breath. Later some snow sloughed off the rough and some monks began walking around. We left the big city of Kyoto and are in the tiny mountain town of Koyasan. Approximate populations of 1.3 million and 3000 respectively.
There are over 50 guest houses in Koyasan, but they must be more popular in the spring and summer as we are the only two here at the Hojo-in. This seems quite understandable given how cold it is and that half the streets are covered in ice. Especially given that all the rest of our destinations are warm climates, we are not particularly prepared for this. But I do have socks and I am wearing them. There is also some sort of heating device built into the table we sit at and it is wondrous.
Morning prayers are at 6:30, so we got up to join the monks and meditate. The thing that struck me most was that someone has been performing these chants and ritutals every day here for centuries. If our translated information is reliable, over 8 centuries. There is something quite powerful in the dedication to such a long-standing tradition.
The food we at last night when we arrived was shōjin ryōri, which is a vegetarian buddhist meal that contains 5 colors, 5 flavors and 5 cooking methods. It was probably the most beautiful meal I’ve ever eaten. There are still a lot of textures that I’m not used to eating, which make some things feel quite odd.
Later today when it warms up a bit, we’ll go out and explore.