Aikido Trip to Japan Fall 2003.

From Wakayama-ken to Shirahama, Mt Gomadansen and Koya-san.

"Dojo-ji Temple is located in the northeast of Cape Hino-misaki and is the oldest temple in Wakayama, erected by the Emperor of that time in the early 8th century. The red-painted Nio-mon Gate, and the Hon-do, or Oratory, and many cultural properties are owned by the temple, such as the wooden sculpture of Senju-kan'non, or thousand armed Goddess of Mercy (Avaloketeshvara), a national treasure; Nikko and Gakko Bosatsu, or Boddhisatva of Sunlight and Moonlight; two Bishamonten or Vaishravana; Shi-ten'no (the four Devas) and two volumes of Dojo-ji-engi, a scroll picture in the 14th century. "

Hiking up the stairs

Walter and Hilary in front of one of the main buildings

One of our many traditional Japanese Lunches. Presentation is a huge part of a Japanese meal with matching pottery and what was cooked you did it yourself right in front of you! A good time to practice Seiza too...

Farther South in Wakayama was the home of the Founder of Aikido, O-Sensei. Morehei Ueshiba was born in 1883 and after studying Jujut-su, Kenjut-su and life he developed Aikido. After passing away in 1969 he was succeeded by his Son - Kisshomaru Ueshiba.

While in Tokyo we had the honour of dining with the current Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba.

as well as practicing during two morning classes with Doshu.

Back to the trip. A main feature that predominated the coast line were the jig-saw puzzled Rock Weirs. As a mountain biker that does a lot of Rock work on trails, this was mighty impressive. No amount of big strong guys could have moved these rocks!

Rock formations reminisent of the Oregon coast dotted the coast line

As well as rocky out-croppings

Sensei by the Sea!

and underwater caves.

This is a shrine in the Sandanbeki Cave. A 2km rock cliff along the coast line at 41 meters high, the caves below were the secret hiding place for the Kumano naval ships more than a thousand years ago.

Our first stay in a Japanese Onsen! (Spa) in Shirahama. The open style rooms are used for both living and sleeping.

Once at the spa, as became our habit when staying at them in the future... we immediately undressed and put on our Yukata for a trip to the spa

as well as dinner afterwards

After leaving Shirahama we drove up Mt. Gomadanzen. We climbed to 1200meters in the rolling hillsides of Wakayama Ken.

The view from the top of Mt. Gomadanzen

From Mt. Gomadanzen we drove north to Koya-san, a mountain top basin at 800meters where in 804 Kobo Daishi established Shingon Buddhism after coming from China.

"Along both sides of the 1.9km path from the entrance of Okunointo the Hall of Lamps lie the tombstones of 200,000 graves. From the great feudal lords to the people of all walks of life who have faith in Kobo Daishi. Tombstones are placed here with the ashes of the desceased because it is believed that this is the most restful place for all spirits." - Koya-san Tourist brochure

"Water covered Jizo Figures - Lined up with the clear waters of the Tamagawa stream behind them are the bronze satues of the deities of Jizo, Fudo and Kannon. Visitors to Okunoin pick up special wodden strips for desceased loved ones at the offering hall (Gokusho) and placing them beside these statues, pour water over the strips and the statues in prayer for the well being of the departed" - Koya-san Tourist brouchure.

Small tombstones for the aborted fetuses and desceased infants...

Here is Steve being dwarfed by one of the many ancient Cypress trees that reign supreme in Okunoin.

Kondo - Great Hall

After leaving Koya-san we drove down the narrow mountain road that was often only wide enough for the tour bus. Being in the front seat I had front row center view of a drive that makes the Sea to Sky Highway look like and American Interstate!

From here we stayed at the Luxurious Seagull hotel that we could actually stretch in! The next day we were off to Kyoto!




Beppu - Hell