Thursday, February 13, 2020

Jizo Jaya Teahouse

Jizo Jaya Teahouse

Rest area at Jizo Jaya Teahouse
Rest area at Jizo Jaya Teahouse on the Kumano Kodo
Towards the end of my first day walking the Saigoku Pilgrimage, I reached the site of the former Jizo Jaya Teahouse. It is located about halfway along the Ogumotori-goe section of the Nakahechi Route of the Kumano Kodo. This first section of the Saigoku pilgrimage follows the Kumano Kodo route for a few days. During the previous few hours of climbing up through the forest I had passed signs indicating former sites of teahouses along the path, none of which still stand.

Rest area at Jizo Jaya Teahouse
The view from the rest area at Jizo Jaya Teahouse
These teahouse4s were not the rustic, but expensive, small rooms where the rich indulged their pretensions to sophistication by memorizing a complex set of minute rituals of the tea ceremony. Nor were they the tearooms of the pleasure districts of Edo Period Japan where sexual assignations took place, a foreunner of the Love Hotels of today. These teahouses were more akin to the service areas found along highways nowadays, places to rest, refuel, and replenish.

Jizo-do on the Kumano Kodo
Jizo-do at Jizo Jaya Teahouse rest area.
Now there is a covered rest area for shelter from the weather, toilets, and even a vending machine. A recently rebuilt Jizo-do houses a group of Jizo statues, and there is also a large, gravel floored structure which is open and also available to take shelter and rest.

Jizo Statues
Jizo statues along the Kumano Kodo
The trail had followed a forest road for a few k, though there was absolutely no traffic. In fact, I had not seen any other humans other than a solitary Frenchman since I left Seigantoji Temple at the start of my walk earlier in the day. This was an obvious place to stop for the night as there was nothing but forest for the next 10k or so. Most people nowadays have well-planned and organized schedules for their pilgrimages where nothing is left to chance and the unexpected is avoided. It is recommended that this section of the trail be started early so accommodation or transport can be reached easily. I prefer to carry a sleeping bag and enough food and drink so that I can wing it and take advantage of the unexpected adventures that offer themselves and so get to sleep rough a fair bit. Some of you, I hope, can appreciate that  the delights of sleeping out often outweigh the discomforts.

Rest area at Jizo Jaya Teahouse
Rest space for pilgrims and hikers along the Nakahechi Trail.

For as far as my ears could hear, and as far as my eyes could see, I was alone. Without a cellphone or other people I was free to immerse myself in the world and allow my usually chattering mind to continue its solo dance without distractions.

Buy dokudami tea from Japan

1 comment:

  1. I was there last spring and there were quite a few people there so not quite so quiet. Several groups including one from the UK. It was pretty nice although nobody had emptied the trash for quite a while. There was a tiny old Shinto shrine up the hill that looked as though a bear had clawed the front open to get to the offerings