to be late for dinner
the moon detained me
The first night of our Kumano Kodo pilgrimage had been at the splendid Kamisou Onsen in Nara. At the end of a full second day at Kumano Hayatama Taisha and hiking Kamikura Jinja Sensei guided us to the Hotel Nagisaya on a tranquil inlet with a view of the Pacific Ocean. It was well situated for our third and final day of the pilgrimage to culminate at the Kumano Nachi Shrine.
I feel so at home in Ryokans with Japanese tatami and the clean simplicity of traditional design where hospitality and living well and simple merge.
Bathing in the evening is the norm in Japan, which makes sense to purify oneself and wash off the day’s residue. The luxury of wrapping myself in a fresh, new cotton yukata and slipping my feet into slippers is comforting for the onsen ritual at this modest but relaxing and beautiful hotel.
Men and women’s onsen are separate and switch sides each day. Onsen is literally the waters of life, as the hot mineral waters come from deep in the earth and onsen sinks its healing and revising powers into the body. Onsen is so amazing it’s one of the top things I miss about Japan back here in the USA.
In the early evening after the sun had gone down, my body entered the outdoor onsen. My head dropped into my body immediately upon dipping into the steamy water where the heat and steam stunned me instantly and powerfully present and aware of this remarkable place and its beauty.
I marvel at the simple beauty of the quiet retreat, the onsen’s stones, bamboo blinds, and a few red leaves that have fallen into the water near me or sank to the bottom. My mind became quiet enough to identify with Nature’s eternal return of birth, life, death and decay which we are all a part of and promises rebirth.
In a relaxed state, I stood up to peer over the ledge at the water. I was astonished into aesthetic arrest at the sight.
half moon on the bay
scintillating silver waves —
The bath reinvigorated, relaxed and quieted my mind so much that I didn’t feel separate from anything in my environment. I wore my yukata to dinner – a gorgeous kaiseki of Japanese culinary art revealed before my very eyes in every course.
The experience of the moon and water remained with me and merged with every sensual taste on my tongue. A perfect evening meal that was followed by an equally splendid breakfast before setting out once again on the Kumano Kodo.