We are completing the Kumano Kodo, visiting the last of the three great Japanese Shinto shrines.
Overlooking the valley
I look at the view and the tourists — then walk towards the great shrine.
At Kumano Nachi Taisha Great Shrine they bow, ring the bell, bow, clap hands, bow.
Amulets for sale — some prevent car accidents, others bring alternate types of good fortune
Goddess of Mercey (Buddhist)
We visit the Buddhist shrine — which is unusual in that the monks are selling merchandise inside the shrine and there is no requirement to remove one’s shoes. Some tourists stand in the entry way but I maneuver past.
We walk toward Nachi-no-Otaki Waterfal (Nachi Waterfall) — the source of spiritual energy. Shintoism includes a kind of nature-worship — honoring particular trees, waterfalls, special rocks — but there is also an element of ancestor worship and acknowledgment of one’s heritage. Shintoism became connected to Japanese nationalism during World War II and this form of belief was rejected after the war. Today, some people acknowledge the ancient spiritual forces — and appeal to them — but few would label themselves as part of “Shintoism.”
I merely watch — being present in the moment.
Commemorative rock, tree, waterfall, pagoda
Fire, group photo (hurry), waterfall (you can write your infirmity on a piece of wood, and for a fee, have the wood added to the fire).
Fire, waterfall and prayer flags.
The next day, we take the train to Kyoto Station and then to the airport. We will fly to Bangkok and Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Before, we were at the waterfall — now we are in the train station. Can you bring the waterfall into the train station?
Here is what I say: When you are by the waterfall, be present at the waterfall. When you are in the train station, be present in the train station.