Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Temple No.24 Hōsen-ji + cows

Today I took a maiden bicycle pilgrimage with the Birdy (BD-1 bike) to Temple No.24 Hōsen-ji. This is a modest little temple nestled in the woods up a steep climb of 116 uneven, worn steps on the far side of the river from my house. According to an imaginative legend, a monk from seaside Japan came to this place and rested (in the 18th century). A goddess appeared to him and made him a gift by cutting 3 branches from a tree with a sword. One she fashioned into the Kannon and from the remaining two the monk made chopsticks for sick people who immediately recovered after using them. The gods in the clouds above vowed to always bless this site. This fable is a typical fusion of Buddhist and Shinto lore.

The remainder of my reconnoitre took me past several bridges, reaching the dominating suspension bridge, that I actually rode underneath on the old stone bridge and to my first encounter with Japanese cattle, first heralded by their distinctive smell. I could have otherwise easily missed them because they were indoors in an open-sided shed: a Jersey milk cow and a small number of black horned Wagyu beef cattle.