Sunday, June 17, 2007

Have you heard of a man named Musashi?

Rob Redmond of 24 Fighting Chickens has a fascinating post of a visit to a famous pagoda in Kyoto called Tohji, and happened upon something extraordinary.
As we were leaving Tohji, muttering to one another about how we had seen too much of Japan and had lived there too long to really enjoy it any longer, we stopped by the entrance of a small, tertiary building which probably most Western tourists walk right past without even stopping to bother and visit.

There was no English at the doorway, nor inside, but by 1994, my Japanese skills had improved dramatically, and I was able to read what this was: A temple unto itself which also allowed tours. I was curious, and since we tended to have interesting adventures whenever we followed our instincts, we decided to go in and have a look at what was in there.

Lorna and I approached the entrance and the woman working the front door was certainly surprised to see two Americans standing there. The first thing she said was “We don’t speak English.”

I said, “That’s OK. We speak Japanese.”

She clapped her hands excitedly and offered for us to come in, offering us special slippers to wear, and carrying our shoes for us through the temple to the other side where we would exit. We gave a donation to them for allowing us inside, and we were greeted by a man who worked at the temple. I didn’t think to ask at the time if he was a monk or more of a groundskeeper or tour guide, but either way, he wore a brown uniform and showed us through.

Inside, we were led directly to this room. The man sort of waved us through it toward the rock garden. “Everyone wants to see the rock garden. I saw the walls, however, and asked him to wait. “I recognize these drawings on the wall. What room is this? It looks very old.”

He turned around and smiled at us. “This belonged to a famous swordsman!” he said with great pride. “Have you heard of a man named Musashi?

Please click here to read the rest!

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