|At the Mount Nokogiri Daibutsu|
It has become a bit of a tradition to go to Mt. Nokogiri (Nokogiri: a Japanese saw) in January.
but mainly just took a hand.
No matter the relation (Daddy), the age (Matthew) or how full it was (Wes with Emi). Dougie followed suit ;)
Eileen, John Henry and Matthew joined us this year (Dave, Mikaela & Alex went on the June trip). One of the fun things about traditions is that there are guarantees. One of the guarantees of the the Nokogiri trip is the HansonSmiths. They are back in Japan and we are super excited! The year that Dougie was the 3-year old, Emi (now 2+) was a baby and Eaton was the 2-year old. Our boys have talked regularly about them while they were gone - one of the common themes was: "I can't wait for Mr. Wes to spin us!" John Henry helped out this year as FIVE boys (and one sweet Emi!) were begging - and Wes was starting to turn a bit green...
Now that Stefan is getting heavy/tall enough that his toes are dragging, he figured he should "help out". After a failed attempt (no lift off - thankfully) to spin Eaton, Stefan just took him for a piggy-back ride. Must admit that my heart swelled up. It was a glimpse of him passing out of young-boyhood and into another phase. Often those hurdles are met with awkwardness and, often times, tears or breakdowns. This passage was made, however, with grace and kindness - and a whole lot of smiles and laughter! Once the ride was over, they played Hide-and-Seek. Whereas Stefan did not find Eaton, Ian sure did!
Here I was told (by my son - not Eaton) not to take their picture - Stefan might find them! (Sorry boys, you are not in the Witness Protection Program - I am taking your picture!)
They finally popped up and Ian started hollering, "Stefan! Stefan! We're over here!!!" Way to be subtle...
There is a little shrine where PILES of these "little Buddhas" (as described by the kids - they are not... They are actually little Jizo statues). The Jizo most often represent unborn children (as the protector of children, expectant mothers...). They can also represent a wish. I just had it explained that this particular shrine was for World Peace. Each Jizo is placed there with a wish for World Peace. It is really quite beautiful to see the pile of these 5 cm statues that is 2 feet deep and maybe 10 feet in circumference. One was hung from the overhanging tree branch.
We enjoy this tradition for traditions sake. We enjoy it for the experience. We enjoy it for the company! It is great to have the HansonSmiths back - I have thoroughly enjoyed catching up with Carlyn. It really does not feel like more than a vacation's time has passed. It was a lot of fun to have (part of) the Paluszeks along! They are always good company :)
Eileen was commenting on the fact that something is always in bloom on the walking path. This was spawned by the hillside COVERED in winter blooming camellias. On the way back up though, a bit of spring was popping through. The Japanese have it figured out - something IS always blooming...
The weather has always treated us well. This year was much windier than years gone by (and it really got that ferry a-rockin'!). But, the sky was blue!
Amongst the stairs and the weather worn caves and crevices, statues of arhats (those that have reached nirvana) are grouped and nestled.
If you are not careful, you will hit your head on one...
The overhanging lookout (Jigoku Nozoki) is said to be a look into Hell. I have to say, that from our perspective, the view is quite lovely! Maybe this guy looked out one too many times...
(Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!)
This park was created to encompass the carvings and statues from the Nihon-ji (Buddhist Temple). Nihon-ji was established in 725 AD, has been left to ruins and restored a number of times through its long history. The Daibutsu, the Kannon and the arhats were carved, paths and walls made. The path from the ropeway to the park entrance, via the carving of the Kannon, is "unimproved". The first year we went, that railing on the overhanging lookout to Hell was just a chain... So, improvements have, in fact, been made! Once inside the park, the steps are new and square, the railings are polished and available. But the walls are still old and the lichen is unaware of age and history, casting a beautiful green pallor over an overly stone-like scape. Stefan (a texture seeker) was fascinated by the feeling of the plants - not at all soggy, like he expected!
One improvement that was a very pleasant surprise - NEW ROPEWAY CARS!!! Out with the cancer-infected, 1960-somehting, poorly ventilated rust-bucket and in with a shiny new red car (rode on the way up) and a shiny new yellow car (rode on the way down)!
I must say, my anxieties were somewhat quelled by this! Only to be replaced by the rockin' ride we had on the ferry coming back. Whoah-boy! Those swells really got us moving! But all was good - and our day was well spent!