I’ve re-located to Kyoto now. Only for a few days, as there is a potter that I need to meet. I’m staying at the Chitta Guest Inn, here in Kyoto. It is located just a few minutes walk from the Kyoto central station, which makes it ideally suited to walk to the Higashiyama, potters district, or to catch any bus or train to anywhere. The lady who runs this Inn is Kahori Inada. She is a really helpful person, with a bright outgoing, talkative personality, and she speaks English really well. Which is a great help when you need to call someone who doesn’t, she has done English translation for me on the phone and made appointments for me. A fantastic service. The place is very well-kept and clean. Shoes off, and tatami mats all through. Sleep on the floor on a futon. I see in the foyer, that she got a 8.8 out of 10, review on ‘trip-advisor’.
Keep in mind that this place is low-key, for young back-packers. It has shared toilet and shower facilities down stairs. No problem for me. It has wifi, TV and air-con that I don’t use. The cost is Y3,500 per night. That’s about Au$40! where else in an advanced country can you find a fantastic, basic, private room for that amount of money, so close to the centre of town. It’s pretty amazing as far as I’m concerned. So that is why I keep returning here. I thoroughly recommend it.
The Inn is located directly opposite the large temple of Higashi-Honganji, so I can’t help but hear the temple bell in the morning. In Arita, the temple bell rang at 6.00 am. and then every 35 seconds for ten minutes. 17 strikes.
Here the temple bell is so much larger. It resounds for longer. Almost one minute. So it sounds only ten times, but it starts at 5.20 am. and then 10 strikes on the minute until 5.30 am.
I decide to go over the road and have a good look at it. While I’m there I decide to sit a while in the main temple. It’s huge. The main room is divided into three sections and is just completed being fully restored. The floor area is 12 x 14 tatami mats + side spaces that double that capacity. That’s 336 tatami or 700 Sq. m. While I’m here, there is only one other person in this gigantic space. I sit quietly for a while. contemplating my time here.
I’d love to show you a picture of this beautiful place, but god has forbidden it apparently. All I can show you is the outside areas, as god isn’t too concerned about that? God is a funny concept!
I wander around amid all the construction works. This re-building program has been going on for years now and is almost complete. I can see from the signage, that re-construction is due for completion in 2016. I finally locate the bell in the corner of the grounds. It’s a beauty, but hard to photograph, as I can’t get a clear shot, due to the position of the workman’s service huts or ‘dongers’, as we’d call them in Australia, placed right up close to it. What I can see is that there doesn’t appear to be any mechanical apparatus or mechanism attached to the big log that hangs from its chains, ready to swing into action. There is just a long white rope. So maybe here I will find that robed, dedicated Monk at dawn, doing his daily ritual?
The next day I’m up at 4.45am., dressed and ready and out the door with my camera in hand by 5.00 am. As soon as I’m outside, I Suddenly hear it. A bell striking the hour, but it’s a long way off and only faint. I haven’t heard this particular bell previously from inside my room. I make my way over to the Higashi-Honganji Temple. I walk the road to the gate that is normally open, but find that it is shut tight. I can’t see any indication or signage, as to when the temple is open, but clearly it isn’t now. I wait patiently outside the gate, just in case it opens, but it doesn’t. Only a minute to go, then there it is. Deep and resounding and lingering too. A very fulfilling sound and feeling. I feel it in my solar plexus. I stand and let the sound immerse me. At this early hour, there is only the occasional passing vehicle. I linger on, eyes closed. The next strike and then the next…
Was it Monk or machine? I for one will never know! It’s a bit like Schrödinger’s bell, I can’t look to see the outcome. It will always be both.
What is the sound of one hang(ing log) clanging?
Fond regards from Steve in Kyoto.