Saturday, April 28, 2012

Not Sohei but Ryuugakusei: Climbing Mt. Hiei

Alright let me explain that first. Sohei are the warrior monks that lived on Mt. Hiei in the period we are studying in class, and ryuugakusei means study abroad students. So, its not warrior monks coming up the mountain, but a huge group of foreigners! Oh no!

Let me rewind a bit to Friday real quick. I warn you, these pictures are not that riveting. I was meeting Davie and Allison for dinner at Ninja Cafe that evening, and I had classes until 1, so since I was going to go to Kyoto I figured I needed to see something else, but that wasn't enough time to see a temple or shrine. So! I wanted to go check out the area around the old Imperial Palace in Kyoto, which I could get closer to than the one in Tokyo because there aren't people living in it, haha. 

Still, you cannot get in without a far reserved tour, so I have many pictures of gates. Whee. So it's a park and I had time, so I walked forever and then sat and read my book.

(Need I mention on the way to the Imperial Palace, I went the wrong way in the subway station even though the path was freakin color coded ;p)

Sidebar! So, as I have told you, I am looking to buy a manga in Japanese here that they no longer translate to English. Happy day, not only did I get the end of the series at the second-hand manga store, I found out there are two other series (they're short, even better)  So I am now on a quest to find them all! I need 3 more. I stopped at two other second-hand bookstores in/on the way to Kyoto and miraculously found their section on my own. Win.

Unfortunately, Ninja Cafe was not what I thought it was going to be. The food was....meh, which I guess is typical at a Japanese buffet. There was a restaurant side, but we, not knowing better, went to the other one. Oh well. There was also a ninja maze, where you walked around with flashlights searching for kanji, and ninjas kept popping out at you. I felt bad because they told us not to shine the flashlights in the ninja's eyes, and when they would jump out I would immediately do so. -.-

So let's talk about today. We climbed a mountain.

Let me mention in my mad dash to the train station (which I made the train seconds before the door closed, victory) I hit one of those Things with my bike. Remember the Things? Random poles in the sidewalk designed to beam bikers? Well I didn't plow into one, but I hit it with the side of me; I can see the bruise forming on my knee already. Yay.

Anyway. Mount Inari was 233 meters. Mount Hiei is 848 meters. Excuse me as I get tired just thinking about it. Fortunately, the weather was awesome. Awesome! Mid 70s, not a cloud in the sky! (Why yes, I got sunburn haha) It was comical watching some 40 odd gaijin hike in a line up this steep mountain. Quite steep. The first stretch I was doing fine, then after the first break I just could not do it. Well I did, but I felt like my body was going to dissolve. Just when you'd think the path would level out, oh wait here's 3 more steep cliffs to drag yourself up! And in a group you can only go so slow. But I kept up! Woot woot!

So when we got to the top (and met the people who took the cable car instead) we had to walk MORE to get to where we were eating lunch. I couldn't keep up this time, even though there was no rocks and stuff to climb over, I was just tired. No matter, awesome lunch on a sunny day in mountain land was waiting for me. And I was never last either. I think that's pretty good for not exercising regularly since I left (well....I mean trading karate for walking and biking).

Then we got to Enryakuji, the temple of the warrior monks! Yay! It was a huge complex, filled with many pretty buildings and temples and bells and lecture halls and goodness! There was so much stuff; there were three different stamp places! (Kinda mad though, I was listening to the teacher and didn't realize one was there, so I only got two -.-) My pictures have some little comments on the various buildings and jazz. I'm glad I go these places with teachers or I would never see half of the stuff we do!

On the way down the other side of the mountain (there were only 20 of us this time, haha) we walked by the temple where there are practicing marathon monks. These monks have a very extreme pilgrimage, where by the end of it they walk a distance equal to the circumference of the Earth! Moreso, if they don't/can't do it, they get to kill themselves. Goodness. They also go 9 days for their aesthetic practices without food or water or sleep. Wow.

At this point, our teacher told us people get injured more often going down a mountain, so be careful. Going down the stairs, someone sprained (ish) their ankle and had to turn around to the cable car. I agree with the down part being more dangerous. Less exhausting, but more life-threatening in a steep fake rocky step like manner. Fun.

But it was really awesome though. Pictures! Although the bike ride back from the station nearly killed me.

Tomorrow? Bunraku! Don't know what that is? You'll just have to see ;)


P.S. Here's some funny stuff I heard people say on the way (the title was something said by my teacher):

::friend A to friend B who is suffering from climbing the crazy mountain::
A: Think of this, you're becoming a mountain Buddha!
B: I'd rather be a living Buddha

"Beware of the monkeys! They could be possessed by the warriors, and could be wielding katana!" ((Blessedly, we saw no monkeys))

::teacher tells us there's a stand that sells sausages and beer at the top of the mountain::
Student: Sausages and beer? At the top of the mountain is Germany, yay!

::And finally::
"So is everyone excited to ride the water slide down the other side of the mountain?"

1 comment:

  1. I feel your pan on mountain climbing. I took the cable car for my one group trip but then I still had to climb a TON that day... including down the mountain. And there were rabid monkies attacking old women.

    Then there was the mountain I actually went to the top on in Tibet... so there was like no air. Fun times mountain climbing.

    I love this post btw.