Written by Dan Lewis
Originally from the state of Alaska in the USA, Dan Lewis is a long-term resident of Japan. He has lived in Mie, Ishikawa and Gifu Prefecctures, and currently resides in Nagoya, the capitol city of Aichi Prefecture. Dan is an avid fan of technology and nature - two areas that Japan is blessed with! He loves taking "the road less traveled" and discovering new places.
And they would all pass through this beautiful gate. In the right light, the wood of the gate appears as if it were made of gold!
We had a few minutes to walk around and take in the decorative designs of the buildings. The temple grounds are beautiful. It’s the perfect spot for a break after a hike. Refresh your body and mind. Take a relaxing catnap where the sunlight peeks through. Enjoy the soothing quiet of hundred year-old trees and the soft murmur of a stream passing by the hand washing area, where you can cleanse your body before going to pray at the temple. I particularly liked this red bridge that crossed over a small stream.
Thankfully, we were invited to watch a special ritual that involves fire. We gathered in a nearby room where there was an altar and a place for the priest to sit. We were all instructed to sit on the mats around and behind.
This was to be a special ”gomaki“, or “goma” prayer usually performed only for the AMA. It’s similar to another, more common ceremony where the priest performs a ritual to send the desires of believers to heaven. He burns their prayers which are written on scrolls or sticks and the prayer rises to heaven with the smoke. Such desires or wishes, however, were not accepted for this particular ritual, in this temple, those prayers are only accepted from the AMA and other fishermen.
As he lay more sticks on the fire, the flames rose higher and higher, sending sparks up into the lofts of the prayer chamber, supposedly carrying with them the prayers and desires of the believers. Eventually, the flames reached nearly a meter high and sparks flew three times that, disappearing into the blackness overhead.