These Walking Dreams: Day 58 (June 9, 2017)

πŸ™ Fukui City β†’ πŸ™ Eihei-ji β†’ β›° Mount Daibutsuji β†’ Katsuyama, Fukui

Map of Fukui Prefecture with author’s route from Fukui City to Katsuyama highlighted. πŸ—Ί Open map in GaiaGPS ⇝

Two people sit on the side of the road by their bicycles, looking across rice fields. πŸ“ Fukui City

A rocky path between the trunks of two big trees, with the roof of a Japanese building behind them.

An elaborately carved metal hinge on a wooden door.

A monk pushes a cart across the courtyard of a Japanese temple.

A carved wooden hallway with windows on the left.

Carved wooden flowers and dragons on a column.

Carved wooden windows direct light on a polished wooden floor.

A menacing looking carved wooden fish-monster hangs from the ceiling of a Japanese temple. πŸ“ Eihei-ji, Fukui

β€œSit on the cushion,” the monk said, β€œand put your left foot on your right thigh, then cross your right foot over your left leg.”

We sat in a dim hall at the magnificent Zen Buddhist temple of Eihei-ji, and I did as instructed. He was beautiful, bald, ethereal, dressed in flowing black robes.

β€œRelax your shoulders, form a circle with your hands, then look at the floor in front of you. When I ring my bell, we will not move or speak for five minutes.”

He rang his bell again after a minute, possibly unable to imagine a Westerner who could shut up for longer.

β€œWas it hard?”

It was wonderful, not unlike the 10 hours I walk every day.

β€œWe wake up at 3 AM, and start out first hour of meditation ten minutes later.”

He had arrived in February, when deep snow covers the buildings, which hug the contours of the mountainside.

β€œIt was very cold. But I can fold my robe over my hands, like this.”

The only sound was the creak of footsteps in the centuries-old hallways, and the rustle of the cedar grove which concealed the temple.

β€œI really liked The Grand Budapest Hotel”, he said. β€œIt’s a great movie.”

Pink azaleas in bloom. πŸ“ Eihei-ji, Fukui

View of distant snow peak, Hakusan, from a densely forested hilltop. πŸ“ Mount Daibutsuji, Fukui

I left Eihei-ji up the mountainside, on a steep, wet path humming with insects, and when I stepped out of the forest, 500 meters above the temple, I saw the valley of the KuzuryΕ« River snaking inland, checked by the white wall of Hakusan, its famous snows impervious to the fierce June sun. β€œI could write forever about Hakusan,” Fukada KyΕ«ya wrote in One Hundred Mountains of Japan, and I walked towards its snowy heights, drawn like a moth to a flame.

The setting sun over the sea as seen from a densely forested place. πŸ“ Mount Daibutsuji, Fukui

Next β†’ Day 59, June 10

Prev. ← Day 57, June 8

These Walking Dreams is a visual field diary of a 4,300-kilometer walk from one end of Japan to the other, in the spring and summer of 2017.