One of the very few temples on the 88 Buddhist Temple Pilgrimage that was not lost to fire, Motoyamaji is considered a National Treasure. There is also a legend that the temple was protected by a huge swarm of bees when Chousokabe Motochika (1539-1599), a daimyo from Kochi prefecture advanced on the area. At any rate, spared from fire and protected by bees, this temple is beautiful. When we visited, the pagoda was going through renovations, so that was unfortunate. Will have to see that next time I come through!
Preserving the past, especially these unbelievable temples comes at considerable cost. I had asked if they receive money from taxes, and was told that they do not. The priests and monks who dedicate their lives to the temples, and to their faith, do so at considerable personal cost. The temples may generate money through sponsors and patrons. And some temples are quite spectacular, some have new beautiful carvings and gorgeously updated buildings. But the more we are on the trail we see temples that do not receive such favor. Some gates a bit wobbly. Some floors riddled with termite holes. Some just kind of still “hanging in there”, and still a testament to time and still of great service to pilgrims who come.
I read an account of a traveler who was frustrated on the Ohenro route that they “had to pay” to stand in front of each temple. The phrase, “pay to pray” was used. I thought that was a rather unfortunate way to see things. From what I have gathered it does not matter if you drop 10,000 yen or a single yen in the offertory boxes. No one is counting, and no one is looking. You just might want to know in your own heart that you did the right thing, and you can decide what you think is okay.
We have riches galore flowing through our hands–health, time, money, energy, laughter, patience, and empathy, but to name a few. Maybe holding on too tightly to any one thing makes you lose it more easily. It is all borrowed anyway, isn’t it? One day it just disappears or it gets taken from you. Why not spread around the good stuff in your life while you still have life to live?
My thought for the day. Travel safe, dear friends and neighbors!
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nin