Sunday, October 19, 2008

Nagano, Japan

We traveled by bullet train to Nagano, Japan (Can someone let Gram know?  She will be happy.)  Our train went 160 miles an hour.

After getting to Nagano, we checked into our hotel, then we went to Zenkoji Temple.  This Temple contains the oldest Buddha in Japan, which is hidden behind a large cloth.  The Buddha hasn't been seen for over 400 years and is only 2.5 inches tall.  We were all a little shocked by that.  This Temple was full of tradition and sacred ceremonies.  Our tour guide has only visited this Temple one other time in her life.  It was quite humbling to watch her follow her religious traditions.

After touring the temple (no photographing allowed, sorry), we were led into a pitch- black tunnel below the Main Hall, which is basically a tunnel running under the alter.  I mean PITCH BLACK.  You run your hand along the wall to find the "Key to Paradise", which locks the door to the Buddha.  Many people travel her for a once in a lifetime opportunity to ensure their salvation by touching the key.  Our tour guide shared with us that this was her second visit but during the first visit she was never able to find the key.  I could see how happy she was to have finally touched the key.

My train is the 10:24 train.

This adorable 3 year old must have thought she was a 
movie star with all the cameras and flashes.  

Another good luck cat.

The ribbons are for bad fortunes.  If you have a bad fortune, you write it on a ribbon and tie it to the rope.  You see these at all temples and shrines.

Our wonderful tourguide, "Issie" (not sure on the spelling)
She is a full time tour guide in Japan.  
She has worked for the Fullbright Teacher Program for 12 years.  
She traveled with us in Tokyo and not to Nagano and on to Iida.

This tradition is to put your hand by the smoke and it will take away your problems.
Some of us thought we might need to spend the night there to get rid of all our issues.


James Sheehan said...

Unreal stuff.. the pictures I have of when I was a kid look just like this...