I’ve just got back from the Koya-san (Mount Koya) trip, and I’m incredibly knackered … but I’m still going to try and write an entry about it. Naked teachers, Japan’s best curry rice, and a trip to Higurashi will all feature in this journal … if I can remember it.
So it all started yesterday at god-knows-what-o’clock (about 6:30 … ish) when I got out of bed. Thankfully I’d packed the night before, and had also, efficiently, left a list of things to pack in the morning; toothbrush etc. Leaving the dorm just before 7 meant that I did miss out on breakfast, but this was soon substituted by a trip to McDonalds in Okamoto (Kobe). After meeting up with the group at … some train station whose name escapes me (this will be a common feature in this entry), we then proceded to go via the JR Line to Koya-san. With the exception of a few DS games and an 8 player tournament of Mario Kart (which I’m unmodestly proud to say I was the clear winner of ^_^), we arrived at the correct train station and went via cable car up the mountain. Bar a few comments about the cable car wire snapping, the trip up was quite mellow. It did have some awesome views and I think I got some pictures.
For the record, I will be uploading the pictures eventually… not today though ^_^.
Staying at the Ho-on-in Temple, we got to experience a more humble life, eating mainly simple vegetarian meals (which were mostly awesome) and sleeping on a futon in a tatami room, something I’d wanted to do even though I don’t think it’s on the list. After lunch, shortly after arrival, we headed by bus(es) to a large temple … maybe a shrine. I’m not going to lie to you guys, over the last two days I saw a lot of temples and shrines, so my descriptions and names (and memories) may not match the actual places to which they refer.
No … wait. We didn’t go to a shrine or temple (ish) but to the biggest cemetary on Koya-san. Lot’s of interesting pictures were taken, and I bought 2 Koya-sanvenirs (bad pun); a small statue, and a charm supposedly to help me study. I don’t think it’s working at the moment, seeing as I have homework due tomorrow (everyday), a kanji test, and here I am writing this up. It did surprise me to see how many Japanese companies had memorials for members of staff who had passed away. It was very touching, but then I come to realise that if members of staff aren’t living to retirement, perhaps I should avoid trying to work there.
After the cemetary we went back to the temple for dinner, a bath, and general chilling out. After dinner, and before playing various card games before going to bed it was time for a bath. For some students this was the first time using a Japanese style bath, so were quite nervous about showing their nakedness in front of their peers. I on the other hand was experienced with using the bath, so went in first. For a while I thought I was going to be the only one in there, until I was joined by one of our teachers. That’s right readers in the UK, a bath session with a teacher! *SHOCK* But no before you run to your phones and call the police, authorities and Tracy your neighbour, first thing to remember is that we’re University students, not 8 year old kids (and for the record there’re no ‘Chiyo-chans‘ here), and secondly things are done differently over here. Yes people do bath together, and yes it’s less boring because you can have a conversation. Not that there’s anything wrong with talking to yourself when bathing at all. Shortly after, we were joined by some other students … then photographed for the yearbook … in the bathroom … bathing … it’s going to be an interesting yearbook this year!
The next morning called for an earlier than usual start, roughly 6am, we were required to participate in a morning Buddhist ceremony. Whilst the participation didn’t physically amount to doing anything beyond meditation, it felt good to think that just a persons presence can attribute to a ceremony thusly. After breakfast (again, very tasty) we were to participate in an Ajikan, which is a sitting meditation similar to zazen. What’s zazen? Let’s ask wikipedia! Though my legs were tired, stiff and aching, I did try to assume the correct position. However, this lasted all of 6 minutes before I had to revert to the ‘at school’ cross-legged position. Although I’m not generally good at clearing the mind and focussing on my breathing, as is what I believe you’re ment to be doing when meditating, I did use the time to think about the new Lotaku project with The Withered One and so on. Still not releasing any spoilers yet, except to say I’m working on the possibility of a game. However for now I’m still leaving the old Lotaku site up.
Following the meditation, we went on to Kongobuji by foot. Kongobuji Temple is home to the Shingon Sect of Buddhism. That’s all I really remember, so click here for more information on it. After here we had free time for a few hours before heading home. I used this time to go off for a walk with a friend to take some pictures, and yes I took plenty of pictures! After some wandering we came upon a little place that really stuck out for me.
We found Higurashi!
Ok, so we didn’t find the village of Hinamizawa (though some of the mountainous areas we passed through on the train did look a lot like it), nor did we find the village of Shirakawa that Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni’s famous village is based upon (which by the way is on my to do list), but we found a cool little coffee restaurant that goes by the name Higurashi! Feeling hungry, we stopped off for some food. I can’t remember what my friend had, but I went with my old favourite of Curry-Rice. Now I’m no connoiseur when it comes to Japanese variations is indian dishes, but I have to say for a fact that Higurashi has the best damn curry rice I have ever had! It was so good that I ended up buying two servings, and would have gone for a third had we not been limited by time. With that being the case, I am going to proclaim that Higurashi at Koya-san has the greatest curry-rice in all of Japan!
The rest of the day wasn’t as eventful, except for me finally getting bitten by mosquitos (not that I wanted them) and someone getting left on a train, so that is where I will leave you. If I think of anything else to add, chances are I’d have forgotton it long before I can get back online.