Translated by Berrak KUREL
Let’s visit an important temple in the city of Wakayama. Wakayama is a small city that has a coast on Osaka Bay and the Pacific Ocean. It’s a city rich in natura and has many mountainsides. The region Koyasan which is in mountains surrounded by forests is a pilgrimage for Budists and believers of Shintoism. There are a myriad amount of temples and cemetries in the forest on the hill. It is also a holy region where neckbones of who are cremated are stored within ceramic jars.
Let’s go back to Wakayama and Kimiidera. Wakayama is an ideal place for a swim thanks to its clean beaches. There are also many chalets around where people go to cool off during summer. After seeing the fields filled with tangerine trees, I started to think that this region resembled alot to Mediterranean region. Peaches here are also quite famous. It is a city that gives more importance to agriculture than industry.
There is a castle ın the city centre where the Kishu Tokugawa family used to live. The parc around the castle is covered with Sakura flowers in spring and in fall, is another colour fest…
Kimiidera is an important temple visited for pilgrimage which is the closest to the city centre. It is located in a region where there are many temples in different sizes are hidden behind the trees of a hill which is not too high. Corners of its red roof behind the trees will catch your eye immediately. It has a very mysterious feeling which makes you want to visit the temple right away. Don’t worry if you think you may struggle in going up the stairs since there is a car park near the hill. After parking your car, you will reach the temple with a little effort. However, if you are confident of not losing your breath, then the stairs are waiting for you! Only 231 steps to reach the top! There will be a souvenir shop, and a shop where you can buy some of the local food too after a short climb.
The temple was founded by Iko Shonin in 8. century and around 500 monks used to live in it. Now, there are very few monks. Both sides of the stairs leading to the temple are surrounded by Sakura trees. If you visit during spring, the sakura trees will take away your fatigue. The earliest blossoming Sakura tree is hidden in that pathway..
There are also little water canals flowing from the mountains on that way. The small stone sculptures on the way to the temple are a pretty sight. The stairs have an emotional feeling to them. During Edo Era, a young man carried his mother on his back and started to climb up the stairs. Right in the middle of the stairs the rope on his flip flops came off and the daughter of the priest of one of the temples mended it. They soon fell in love and got married. The young man was a businessman and at first after their marriage he got lucky and became rich. That’s why these stairs are known as the ‘stairs of luck’. There are small sculptures on the sideway to the temple. The main buddha statue is in the temple and is very large. Going inside and touching it is forbidden just like in other temples. You ring the bell in the entrance of the temple to notify them of your arrival and fold your arms infront of your chest to pray. Then, you light up an incense to make a wish.
The water of the well in the middle of the temple tastes very delicious. During tea ceremonies they use water from this well and it gives a unique taste to the tea. It is possible to see a part of the city and the sea from the temple. After your visit to the temple, you can visit the amusement park and the fish market. If you don’t have trouble eating raw fish, you can taste salmons in small slices. The temple is also often visited by ill people. You can also buy ‘omamori’ prepared for different wishes such as being successful at school, living healthly, being protected from accidents.
I bought the heart shaped for chest pains. It is a different type of hope; searching for something to hold on for success and health in all religions… So, I bought myself one of the omamoris too. I hope that one day you can visit this place to share my experiences…