- beside the ” Ekobashira” pillar
We 4 farmers in Kawakami village decided to treat ourselves for the last time before the farming season.
We had planned to walk around the Suwa Lake ( 15,9 km ), but changed our mind at the last moment to visit Zenkoji .
Gokaicho is held only once in 6 years, you see.( They all say it is once in 7 years, but it actually means ” once in the 7 th year” , which means every 6 years.)
Besides, one of us has a miniature size “Eko bashira”pillar from the previous Gokaicho at her home, and wanted another one to make them a pair.
So we set to drive toward Nagano city, which is the opposite way to Suwa from Kawakami village.
Zenkoji and Nagano city was beautiful April 16 th. Although Cherry blossoms were past their full bloom, there were still different kinds of Cherry blossoms as well as other blossoms and flowers.
Eko bashira pillar in front of the main hall is connected to the sacred Buddha statue by 5 colored string, so if you touch the pillar your wish will come true.
There was a long line of people waiting to touch the pillar, with a man conducting the crowd shouting ,” It will be 30 minutes from the end of the line.”
We joined the line.
We had been joking and laughing in line when it was our turn to touch the pillar.
I was amazed to see my 3 friends’ sudden change of expressions on their faces !
From laughing aloud to piously closing their eyes and touching the pillar.
I almost began laughing to their too quick change of attitude, when I realized it was my turn,too, so I shut my mouth , closed my eyes, touched the pillar,and prayed for a very good harvest this year.
After visiting the temple, we decided to visit Togakushi shrine.
30~40 minutes drive up to the mountain from just behind Zenkoji temple, and we were in front of Togakushi Okusha ,or inner ,shrine.
After eating Soba noodles with tempura, we were fully ready to walk up to Okusha, the innermost shrine of Togakushi’s 4 shrines.
But alas! The indicated 40 minutes walk path leading to the Okusha shrine was still snowy and muddy.
So we took our way back and visited the Chusha , or midway,shrine instead.
It was our happy day to have prayed to Buddha AND Gods.
Please understand, Zenkoji temple is an all-sect temple which accepts people from various kind of religions . And Shinto Gods of course always get along well with Buddhist religions.
Maybe I will have another chance to write about this religious mixture someday.