Grab your camera and head over to a temple in your neighborhood. Pass through the gate, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Take in the sounds of the birds, the wind. Absorb the murmur of the trees swaying in the breeze and the rays of illuminating sunlight. With your eyes still closed snap one photo based only on your sense of smell and sound. Then slowly open your eyes and seek out those elements that took hold of your senses. Even in the familiar temple, you will discover something new.
The accompanying pictures were taken at Hakusan Tokozenji, the temple where I previously shot pictures of Buddhist statues (issue #78, 8/2015) for the Seasider. This temple and its garden are wonderful year-round. Just as I recommended, I took one of these pictures with my eyes closed.
Many Japanese are taken to a shrine after birth. For weddings, a church is the choice of venue. For a funeral, the ceremony is at a temple.
Japanese are a bit unique in that they embrace Shinto, Christianity, and Buddhism from birth until death. Regardless of whether it’s called a shrine, a church, or a temple, when you enter it you are removed from the surrounding bustle outside. Even time seems to flow differently.
So relax and close your eyes. Let time and space guide your five senses as they perceive the scent of incense, the gentle warmth of sunlight through stained glass windows, the air temperature, and the relaxed flow of time. Is this not a good approach to enjoying any religion?