One of the coolest things I've learned about Japanese culture was in Hawai'i.  I was told that when a friend is feeling under the weather you never say, "I'm sorry."  I find this intriguing because there are precious little things in Japanese that don't apologize for something... I've even gone so far as to joke and ask how to say, "I'm not sorry." (the best we could come up with was Sumimasen janai-yo.  Which is total contrivance since there is NO direct translation.)  Anyway, it is the fact that when someone is down they focus on the positive ... on getting better, on healing, and soon.  It's something I admire very much and have tried to incorporate in mon vie quotidien.

It's hard when you  get sick while traveling, especially when it takes two days in and out just to adjust to the jetlag.  But somehow this is just what happened on our trip to Japan.  Enter Kiyomizu.  In literal translation it means "pure water" and the whole place was constructed around a waterfall in 780.  The massive structure was made sans-nails and has several mini-shrines which come together to form one structure.  My favorite two are the Jishu Shrine, which lies at the heart of the temple and the waterfall itself, named Otowa.

The shrine at the heart is dedicated to "the cupid of Japan" fitting, no? At its center are two Love Stones.  The story goes that if you can safely walk from one stone to the other, eyes closed, your love wish will be realized.  There was barely enough time to try with every 20-something within a 50 ft. radius walking between the stones.  It makes me wonder if by "safely" they mean "without bumping into another person making the same wish." Ahhh... tricky Japanese cupid you are!
Looks like a win-win to me.

Now the waterfall is a bit trickier.  Otowa Falls is the reason behind the name "Kiyomizu" but has three separate streams.  I've read different interpretations of what each trickle stands for; from love, beauty, longevity, wisdom, and so forth and am still researching for a definitive answer.  Anyone out there have some insight?  Pretty please?  The water tasted like water from a source many thousands of years old and with many stories within it.  Don't go late or they won't sell you a 200 yen cup (the lady selling them seemed irritated that I dared be a skeptic), and its a pretty cool souvenir or maybe it just gives me a reason to visit again someday.

Apart from that, the temple provided a separate peace amongst the very busy throng.  It was similar to what surfing feels like on a crowded day when you just wait for your perfect wave, one (if not all) of those shrines calls to you. Just make sure to bring coins.

 Perhaps because I can't understand Japanese the language wasn't a barrier.  It was like hearing larks singing around you... you know it means something, you're just not sure what.  I chose to believe it's several hundred strong well-wishing for whatever ails you to "feel better soon."  

10/16/2013 05:11:14 am

Just reading up on some of this lately, was interesting.


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