Felicity’s Latest Japan Stories

April 08:

I was finally blessed with five beautiful days in the Nachi waterfall and Kumano (World Heritage) site. For Japan it’s very remote, no bullet train or major highway go anywhere near it. This has ensured that it has remained a quiet and unspoilt gem. It’s tucked away between grand and verdant mountains and a beautiful coastline of crooked pines and tiny inlets, famous for it’s tuna and whaling. Despite the whale bacon and dolphin jerky, it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. Beauty at that at times become overwhelming with it’s extraordinary intensity.

Sasa, Yuka and I caught the overnight bus from Tokyo, hired a car and then spent our first day exploring in the mountains, hot springs and shrines. Spring was in all her glory. Hedges of azaleas and peony’s, wild wisteria through all the trees, wild cherry high in the mountains. The strong and twisting Kumano river was met by one tall leaping waterfall after another. We paid our respects at the Grand Kumano Shrine, one of the three that define this ancient pilgrimage destination. The Emperor Jimmu came to this area in the 4th century and was guided by a three legged crow to the Grand Nachi Falls and then back to Kyoto. The whole area has since become a popular training ground for shugendo (mountain ascetics) and a hugely popular pilgrimage route. The crows symbol is everywhere and the quiet ancient stone trails through the huge forrests criss cross the winding roads we use today. The next day 18 gorgeous women, 4 men and three children gathered. I nearly burst into tears when I saw the place we would stay and practice.

The most beautiful temple inn set in a exquisite garden, not a leaf out of place, with the most amazing view of the waterfall and orange pagoda. The weather was great, food delicious and we had time for walks in the forrest and a small letting go ceremony aboriginal style. The abbot agreed for us to dance in the small viewing area in front of the temple, we were thrilled for it was THE best spot.

The morning arrived and the local TV and reporters came to record our offering. We processioned to the temple to recieve the fire offering practice that we had sponsored. The flowing purple and green silks of the abbot and his monks, the beat of the drum, the fire and ornate ritual was a perfect opening prayer. The dance was wonderful to be a part of, everyone shone and our three children danced so well with their parents. Many hugs and photos later, we celebrated with lunch, hosting our TV friends and all the local people who had helped us so much. All the while the thundering of the waterfall was calling me to return there. This area is one I am planning to bring people to on a pilgrimage of sacred sites, temples and shrines of the Kansai region. We hope it to start in 09. Pls check out the weblink for the TV footage of the offering at Nachi and the photos. The blessings of beauty on the trail of a million pilgrims is a treat I would love to share.