Heading south into the land of the gods

After talking a lot about dead people yesterday, I am now looking forward to spending some time with a few tomorrow. I am off to Koya-san, a sprawling Buddhist monastery complex high in the hills south of Osaka and home of Japan’s biggest and most famous cemetery. All the important dead people will be there at Okunoin: the frog poet Basho will be near the front, not far from the founder of the monastery Kukai’s final resting place.

The monk-murdering warrior Nobunaga will be there lurking in the shadows as usual, even (supposedly) exterminated termites will be there patiently waiting for paradise.

Kukai’s place in the graveyard is perhaps the most perplexing. He is not even supposed to be dead, just meditating. For 1200 years. Surely he could have chosen somewhere quieter.

Anyway, I have lost my track again. Why am I writing this? To express that I am really looking forward to tomorrow. The fresh air, the space between people, the space to walk into. And perhaps best of all the possibility of hearing an uguisu, a bush warbler, the ultimate sign of spring. I have started whistling to them. And guess what? They whistle back. They love me, honestly they do. We have a great time together.





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