Japan day 7 - Takayama and Kyoto



- Takayama 

- Miyagawa River 

- Kyoto at Ryokan Hostel Gion.

Started the day by waking up in the Zenkoji temple, then got ready for prayer and meditation with the monks. We started with morning prayer at 07.00, it was exciting and interesting. A Buddhist ceremony. 

Prayer was free to participate in, but the meditation cost 3000 yen (224 NOK), which was a donation to the temple we slept at. 


In general what meditation is: Meditation is a mental practice where attention is consciously directed towards a specific object or phenomenon. The word meditation comes from Latin and means "to think about". The goal of meditation can be to achieve physical and mental relaxation, well-being, increased mental capacity, spiritual insight, or extinguishing thoughts and feelings. Meditation originated in India and is used in many religions and cultures. (SNL)

In the temple, the meditation was like this: There was a monk who led both prayer and meditation, which were right after each other. There were many people at the meditation, but some were still sleeping as well. The monk started by telling about their faith, energies, life, being at one with the cosmos and much more. When he had finished talking we had to get into position with folded legs, straight upper body and hands in front of the stomach in a unique way. Here we were to become one with the universe and try and feel the invisible energies around us. Normally you should squint your eyes lightly, together but not completely, but he said we could have our eyes closed since it was the first time for most of us. We sat in the same position with our eyes closed for 15 minutes. 

It was really painful, and I found that I get easily distracted. Because right outside where we sat, cars and ambulances were driving, among other things. . Lasted way too long for me, but that was only because it hurt to sit like that for so long. After 15 minutes the monk said we could open our eyes, he asked us to straighten our legs and massage them without standing up, because our legs might have fallen asleep since we were sitting in the same position for so long. He told us that he had had a previous group in meditation and one person had stood up right after the meditation and fell straight down on the floor because his legs had fallen asleep. This was my first meditation ever, it was educational and interesting but lasted a little too long for me, it coud be enough with 5 minutes or less.

Afterwards we walked around and looked in the old town of Takayama, as well as at the morning market on the banks of the Miyagawa River. Here there was a small market with a lot of nice things. Here I bought, among other things, chopsticks for my father and one of my sisters, on which they engraved their names both in Norwegian and in Japanese. It took 30 minutes because there was so much queue. Wanted to buy more but only had an hour at the market before we had to move on.  

After this we took the train to Kyoto, where the next hostel was. It was a capsule hostel called Ryokan Hostel Gion. Here there were bunk beds, in their own hatches. Everyone in the group slept in the same place, the boys on one side, the girls on the other, but everyone had different capsules. It was big in there, and you could draw the curtains if you wanted to be in peace, the suitcases were scattered around the room, as close to the beds as they could get. There is a shower and toilet in the hallway, here we needed a key card to get to the showers, they were private showers. 

In the evening we went on a guided tour with a local guide through Kyoto's Gion district, which is famous for its geisha. Here we learned a bit about the history of geisha, what they do, where they live and much more, we also saw a couple of them. Geishas are traditional Japanese artists, who dress up with powder and entertain guests. Exciting. 

The working day of an ordinary geisha begins around 4:00 p.m., and lasts until late at night. Typical tasks are holding tea ceremonies, performing theatre, song and dance, and talking to guests. Read more about geishas here: https://Japanguiden.no/kultur/geisha/  

All in all, an exciting day where you learn a lot such as how the monks pray, how the Buddhist faith is used, how to do meditation and what geishas are and do. Exciting and educational.