Thursday, May 20, 2010

Of Prayers and Nature in Takino

10th October, 2006 - It's always an important time for T-chan's family when visiting T-chan's grandfather (on Otousan's side) - back at Takino Cemetery (Takino Reien. The tombstones are for family plots... and yes, people are all cremated in Japan. An important part of the journey is to clean the head-stone and say a short prayer for the departed. This year we've an important prayer to offer... for our unborn child. On a side note - you might note the shape of the head-stone is a little strange... it's based on a shogi piece (Japanese chess piece).

As you may recall - Takino Cemetery (check the link) is like the Fantasy Island of cemeteries, with a bizarre historic monument tribute avenue (with Easter Island heads and Stonehenge to name just a couple). This year a new addition was included... a giant Buddha. I guess at least this had some cultural relevance.

This Buddha was brand-spanking new - and it looked as if the statue might not be for free-public display in the future... but at this time it was easy to walk in and have a look around.

And when you see a big bell... you must ring it! I always get a bit self-conscious about ringing bells, but I shouldn't, as this is good luck. There's two interesting things to notice in the background... one the vending machines (and ashtrays), and the second is the workman skulking away. Apparently they didn't like my bell-ringing either.

After having lunch at the cemetery (most probably sounds a strange thing to do from a Western perspective), we went for a country drive to a small little waterfall, Ariake-no-taki. This is about another 2.5 km (to the east) by car from the cemetery.

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(Once again - thanks to Street View... the car park looks like...)

The waterfall is quite a distance off the road, in amongst a typically lush and vibrant Japanese forest. Yes - bear territory. Yet, who could think about such dangers when surrounded by such beauty as the light softly glowing through the leaves...

Coming from Australia, where it's native forests are largely Eucalyptus gum trees of one form or another, it's always a treat for me to step into a Japanese forest.

 I can appreciate why the Japanese were a nature loving people (even if they sometimes only remembered in bitter-sweet moments for many city-dwellers). Their forests are magical. Or is this also the fact that they are so different to what I'm used to (and the grass is always greener on the other side).

Here we are... as mentioned it's a small waterfall (even in October)... and if you expect a lot you might be disappointed. However, if you stop to take it all in, you will find a peaceful place of reflection, and a moment to re-connect with time's missing moments.

Just don't fall in... actually, they don't let you get too close, so I'm guessing plenty of people must already have done just that.

The light at this time of day was quite nice... filtering through the forest it had a palpable texture. If you're up in Takino, pop in and see for yourself. 

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