Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


One of the Three Views of Japan.

That’s where we’re going today.

It’s called Itsukujima or Miyajima. The Strict Island or the Island of the Shrines. The Strict, because no death or birth is allowed on the island, to keep it pure. Even today, women close to term and people who will dye imminently go to the mainland. I could not find provisions in case of an accident. For this strictness it reminds me of Delos, Greece. The Shrines, for the so many shrines found here, hidden by the forest.

While Ioan is doing school, Mihai masterminds the transportation there: first train, then a ferry (free for the JR permit). He also buys a picnic. He takes care of us. 

The iconic torii (gate) appears through the haze, separating the secular from the holy. Made of camphor (the two main pillars) and cedar (the four supporting pillars) trees the gate presents through its shape its affiliation with the Shingon buddism. Reading the flyers we find out that the top rail of the gate is hollowed and contains seven tons of rocks fist size, making the torii to stand under its own weight. I don’t know why they insist to call that color vermillion, when even through my colored lenses is orange all day long.

We leave the streaming flux of tourists for a photographic spot. We manage to avoid the domesticated deers (some had their antlers cut), but not the smell of their urine until we enter the grounds of the temple. Built on stilts, the covered pathways lead in a zig-zag pattern to the shrine (that we can view from afar) and to the iconic view of the torii.

From here we go to the Treasury, a trove of government-designated National Treasures and Important Cultural Objects. The few informations that we have are from the guide book: we should look for some illuminated sutras made in the 12th century. Clearly we can’t appreciate them, for us they resemble squiggly lines, we don't understand the Japanese writing. There is a hand held fan with five black lacquered sticks and white silk on which an emperor wrote something. A painting with some beautiful geisha-s. The sign from the torii, the one that used to be on the old gate, before this gate was built in 1874, approximately 5 ft . No pictures, we weren’t allowed.

A lull in the turist flux

Cornered by a hungry and picky deer

We climb Mount Misen, the holy mountain, to get to the Daishō-in Temple, the most important one on the island. From the beginning we feel like we are in a story. Statues of characters that I have seen in Miyazaki’s movies. 

Then we visit and it reminds us of Tibet: the sutras-wheels (inside are Hannyakyo sutras and if you touch them, they will bring you fortune), the sand mandala (made by Buddhist priests from Tibet). 

There is a Hall dedicated to the Fudo Myō, either an incarnation or an envoy from the Cosmic Buddha, that has a fierce face, to show his determination to make humans follow Buddhist teachings (the sword and the rope have the same role). It is surrounded by 1000 smaller Fudo images, donated by the worshippers. Every day at 10 am the Goma ritual takes place, burning wooden sticks on which prayers were written.  While the boys take their time taking pictures, I observe the monk who patiently stamps the prayers, absorbs the excess of the ink with a towel and puts the finite product in the sale box.

Seven deities of the Good Fortune are enshrined in an octagonal hall that we can reach crossing a tiny bridge over a tiny pond. Following the examples of other visitors, Ioan wants to hit the dragon with a coin. He does not succeed, but he is happy anyway, at least he tried.

We walk toward other shrines between statues of Jizo Bosatsu, undergoing an ascetic training to attain enlightenment, who had vowed not to attain it until all the hells are emptied. They are protecters of the children who have died before their parents. The children need to be protected by Jizo or else the demons will make them pile for ever stones on the side of the River of the Dead, which they can’t cross, because they did not live long enough to accumulate good deeds and they also upset their parents by dying. The Jizo hides them from demons under his robe and lets them hear mantras. The parents in this world take care of the Jizo Bosatsu and clothe them with red bibs and hats.

Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon sect in the 9th century, is enshrined here. Under his shrine, in a dimly lit cave there are the icons of the eighty eight temples on the pilgrimage route on Shikoku Island (a neighboring island, all of them associated with Kobo Daishi). People undertake the journey for various reasons, traveling approximately 1200 km in 30 to 60 days. But if one is really pressed for time, one could come in this cave and receive the same blessings.

We make our way to the ropeway to take us to Mt. Misen, the tallest on the island, 535 m above sea level. Technically, it is not, but the aspect and the unusual shaped rocks entitle it to the term.  We pass through the Momijidani Park (momiji means maple tree, and they have different species, some of them with tiny leaves) take one of the many carriages to the half-way station Kayatani, and from there, in an aerial tramway, on a cable sustained only by the beginning and the end station, almost to the top of the mountain. 

We can enter only after the windows and the seats are wiped clean.

To get to the Misen Hondo temple, we still have to walk for half an hour. I almost did not see mamushi, a small, black with a yellow spot behind its ears venomous snake, scared for its life as I was walking and taking in the view. Ioan told me I almost step on it!

The Misen temple guards the Kiezo no hi, the eternal flame, that was lighted by Kobo Dashi 1200 years ago when he meditated and did Goma ceremony for 100 days. It has never been extinguished.

Pressing on to the observatory, for that famous view, we  pass through a tunnel made by a huge rock, by a rock ship, and under it, many Jizo Bosatsu. 

Finally, on top, we have the 360 view, a little bit hazy, but still wonderful!

Did you enjoy our day? Now that the tide is in, let's go back and see everything in the sunset light...

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