Monday, April 06, 2009


The evening my friend and I arrived at the temple inn at Koyasan, we were sitting at the window of our lovely room.

This is the room.

And this is the view of the inn's karesansui garden, from our window.

We were tired after all the walking we'd done, and gazed at the garden contemplatively. After a while I said to my friend,

"Whenever I look at this kind of garden I get the same kind of feeling."

"Yes?" said my friend, looking a little apprehensive. I think she was worried that I was going to say something deep and spiritual in a clunkily gaijin way, and as she trained as a Buddhist priest she would feel she had to be understanding and empathetic.

She needn't have worried.

"I get an almost irresistible urge to make footprints in the sand," I said. "Don't you?"

My friend laughed and laughed and laughed.

"But really, don't you?" I asked. "It's like freshly fallen snow. It looks so beautiful and perfect, and after admiring it for about two minutes the next thing you want to do is to mess it up. It's the HUMAN thing to want to do."

After a pause I added,

"It's not just me, is it? "

"Well ... no," admitted my friend. "But I will never take you to our main temple. We have gardens like this."

"Don't worry," I said. "I have learned to restrain myself, over the years. I won't embarrass you by behaving like the unenlightened oaf I really am."

And it's true. I won't. But I will still THINK about doing it. And perhaps I'll actually do it when I am an old lady and can pretend (if necessary) to be slightly batty.

I'll give the gardeners a Zen moment.


kenju said...

The gardeners probably need a Zen moment - to give them more opportunities to gain their own enlightenment!!

I'd want to mess it up, too.

Keera Ann Fox said...

Oh, now I'm disappointed! I want to see your footprints in that sand! :-) (Reminds me of the one time I did touch something in a museum, in spite of the "Do Not Touch" sign. I was an adult, I did know better - and yes, my curiosity was satisfied.)