14Nov10: Chris McCabe

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Adventure On Goshikidai

Chris and Bird.jpg                           (Photo courtesy of Richard Kinsella)


Our group of foreign resident "Henro" pilgrims assembled on Sunday November 14, 2010 in the quiet space of Kokubunji Temple.  After paying our respects there, we set about climbing the steep path up Goshikidai Plateau.  As we made our approach to the summit, many of us were breathing quite hard.  However, we all experienced something just below the peak that really lifted our spirits back up.  We had heard that if you hold out birdseed at a certain spot on the trail, then small birds called yamagara (cyanistes varius) will flock down from the surrounding trees.  When we actually tried this, we found that, sure enough, it worked!  Having these birds lithely perch on and peck the seeds from our hands was a thrill that brought us all a very warm feeling of happiness.  

山雀に 種ささげては 歓喜かな  

Such wonderful joy!
Offering up birdseed to
The yamagara


We reached the top of the plateau and headed for Shiramineji.  As we walked, the trees would sometimes open up and we could see the Sanuki Plains, dotted with hills painted a deep autumn red.  We bowed our heads at the main hall when we arrived at Shiramineji.  To the side of the hall was a yellow maple tree burning with vivid brightness, and it was as if we could feel the presence of the Buddha himself.

鮮やかに 残る黄葉(もみじ)や 白峰寺  黄葉はなんと読むのですか?

The late autumn leaves
Of Shiramine Temple
Shining Brilliantly

白 峰寺から根香寺にかけて繰り返されるアップダウンを何キロも歩き疲れてきた頃に、ようやく根香寺に着いた。副住職にお寺の由来や歴史、伝説などを教えてい ただき、その中でも「牛鬼」の伝説の話が印象に残った。話によると、かつて周りの庶民を困らせた牛鬼は、お寺で21日祈祷した弓の射手に退治され、その鬼 の角が現在もお寺に伝わるとされている。山門の横には伝説の牛鬼がかぎ爪を広げて身構えていた。

We trod for many kilometers on the undulating path leading from Shiramineji to Negoroji.  Our legs began to tire, but we finally reached the last temple of our trek.  The assistant head priest of Negoroji was kind enough to greet us and talk to us about the origin of the temple's name, its history, and its legends.  Among his stories, the most interesting by far was that of the "Cow Demon."  This was a monster of lore who was said to have terrorized the local citizens.  However, an intrepid archer came, and after praying at the temple for 21 days, he set out and defeated the great Cow Demon.  The Cow Demon's horns are said to be kept at the temple to this day, and there is a frightening statue of the beast near the main gate, with his claws perpetually pointed out in animosity.

冬紅葉 じっと見つめる 牛鬼像
Gazing away at
Early winter maple leaves -
Cow Demon's Statue


Our band of pilgrims left Negoroji, and strung out along the mountain road, we slowly made our way to Kinashi Station, our ending point.  After 18 kilometers of pilgrimage, our hearts were very content.


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