patriots speak of the uniqueness of the Japanese, they refer to
“Yamato Damashii,” the Soul of Yamato.
A woman who embodies all the graces and virtues of traditional
Japan is called “Yamato Nadeshiko,” a Flower of Yamato.
The “true” Japanese is of the Yamato race, and the purest
language is the “speech of Yamato.”
Japan as we know it begins with the founding of the Yamato court.
idea is so old, and runs so deep, that scholars cannot agree when and
where the Yamato Court existed. In
a way, it is almost mythical.
many consider the area around ancient Nara to have been the center of
the Yamato district, and it is so designated today.
route took me through the following places:
This is one of Japan’s primary tourist destinations, and with good
reason. Horyuji is said
to have the oldest wooden buildings in the world; Todaiji houses the
Daibutsu, or Great Buddha, one of the largest bronze images in the
world, and whose hall is the largest wooden building in the world.
Despite all these “-est”s, there is a peaceful sense to
the place, reinforced by the Deer Park in the center of town.
The heart of ancient Yamato, Asuka has old burial mounds (kofun),
the foundations of a palace, and mysterious carved stones resembling
monkeys, turtles, and human beings, as well as seemingly abstract
geometrical patterns. It
is also home to Asukadera, which claims to be Japan’s oldest
temple and houses Japan’s oldest statue of the Buddha.
Koya: Or as I call it, Heaven on Earth.
One is greeted by a great gate at the “front” of this
mountain-top complex; at the far end one reaches the mausoleum
containing the remains of Kobo Daishi who, it is said, is not dead,
but is in “eternal meditation.”
Many pilgrims begin their trip to Shikoku here, paying
respects to the pilgrimage’s legendary founder.
the way, I stopped at a number of the temples that are part of the
“Saigoku Sanjusan Reijo,” the Pilgrimage to 33 Temples Sacred to
Kannon in West Japan.
I went on to Shikoku.
Where I went, What I saw
Other Logbook Stages: Prelude
October 10th, 2001(Wednesday)
October 11th, 2001(Thursday)
October 12th, 2001(Friday)
October 13th, 2001(Saturday)
Next: The Shikoku