Journey To Japan


Take that in….



This is the Kezoji Temple temizuya or purification pavilion used to perform the ablution rite called temizu before entering temples and shrines.

Once inside, we tipped quietly in our socks into the main artery of the main prayer hall, the large wooden planks groaning under our collective weight. The room was largish and dimly lit from sunlight that managed sneak through.  Lining the perimeter of the room were floor pillows used to meditate and it smelled of earth and incents. In the center there was an ornate display of Buddhist regalia and a statue of the Buddha. Once seated, it was explained to us that we would meditate by keeping our eyes slightly open, concentrating on a point ahead of us, clearing our minds, and focus on breathing. I had meditated before with varying degrees of success so the instructions weren’t all too foreign. This however was different. Very different. As the monk sounded a large bell, I focused on my spot and endured the pain of the seating arrangement (I’m tallish). When I looked up, 30min had passed. It was an incredible experience. After  our meditation, we were treated to shojin ryori (devotion cuisine)—a multiple course vegetarian meal that originated in Japanese Zen temples to fit the religion’s emphasis on simplicity, clarity, and asceticism . The food is prepared to be as close to its natural state as possible with little heat, so it’s a rather cold meal. Despite that, it’s good and you can truly taste the flavor in all of the dishes—a common emphasis in Japanese cuisine. I did struggle with a soba dish that had a yam coating that gave it a sort of unpleasant viscosity, but even that didn’t taste bad, it just felt kinda weird. Weird and different, thankfully, were core reasons why I always wanted to go to Japan. I was getting my wish!