Friday, July 14, 2006

Saturday, July 1st

We are up early. Pretty good and very welcome breakfast buffet is available to us at the Shingu Hotel. At 8 am Ishimoto sensei, Suzuki-san(a younger dojo shihan and another old training partner), and Nakao-san(he accompanied Anno sensei last summer) pick us up and take us to the Nachi shrine, which is built around the Nachi waterfall, the highest in Japan. It is possibly my favorite place on this earth. Lots and lots of steps, we visit shrines and temples, a mixture of Shinto and Buddhism. We see the waterfall last. They say its spray is healing and karmically altering. Near the base of the falls, or at least as close as we can get, there appears to be no spray.. However, as I pause and settle, I begin to feel a light spray. As outer things and concerns take my attention, the spray seems to disappear. Yet each time I settle, I feel the light spray back on my cheeks. It is as if the falls are the center of an energy field, and each time my being deepens and attunes, it reaches out to me through spray from the falls. I have always felt a deep and very special connection to this place.

Sushi lunch. So hot and humid. A drive up a familiar mountain road. The Hongu grand shrine. An unexpected audience with the "gugi"(head priest). Coffee shop. Sugawa sensei's mountain dojo. A cultural festival and Aikido demo for Americans who have birth ties to Wakayama Prefecture. Waiting for our guests. Suzuki san and I exchange aikido stuff and memories of Tojima sensei. Very late arriving group. Sugawa sensei and I demo, individually, not together. We head back to Shingu. We do one last pilgrimage, to the Hayatama Grand Shrine, just around the corner from the Shingu dojo. We've made all 3 major Kumano Shrines in one day. My only regret is that we didn't really get to "soak"in the specialness of each shrine/place as we did at the Aiki Jinja in Iwama. These shrines are as important to the history of aikido as the Aiki jinja. More on that in a future blog. Back to the hotel. Group dinner at the roof Beer Garden. I drink a beer and it really tastes great. Being diabetic, this is a rare occasion for me. Great vibes. Good food. Bath. Late night packing.


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