Already 5 years have passed since wet set the first stone for this wall. but if we can keep the present pace, we might be able to finish the work this autumn. Or maybe next year after all…
Today was the sports fest in Kutoyama, which takes place once a year in autumn. All the villagers come together at the old school to compete in a variety of disciplines. The event starts with a warm up exercise:
Next, rolling a wheel with a stick. the start had to be delayed because of Izumi:
The veterans from the village were quite fast, but then came the monastics from Antaiji.
Steffi was good at the golf competition, she did not even need to take a second shot (but shot twice anyway).
Tsukan almost learned to fly during the tug of war with a team of elderly villagers.
Counting the number of balls in the “Tamaire” competiton. Again Antaiji lost.
A last try by the monastecis to impress at the “Kutoyama dance”:
Takes place every morning at 7:30, before work starts:
Antaiji’s forest group, which consists of Eko, Gusho, Tsukan, Yudai and me, went to the townhall in Hamasaka today to discuss the three year project which is starting this month. On the way back Jisui and Hiromi, who went shopping on the free day, and the kids who came back from school, 10 people altogether, rode in Antaiji’s 660cc mini van, which is only designed for 4 people normally:
On free days, there is no zazen. Instead, we give the main hall a thorough cleaning. today it had been raining since the early morning hours, therfore we could not dry the cushions in the sun.
Today was another one day sesshin. The video of last month’s panel discussion on “The greatness of Japanese Buddhism” has been uploaded on Youtube:
We had strong winds blowing during the night, but no major rain falls. Fortunately, the bamboo construction on which the rice is hanging was not affected either.
This moth, Tobi is teaching us Yoga every morning at 4am. Doing zazen after warming up the body and waking up the mind isn’t a bad idea.
It is harvesting season in Antaiji. A typhoon is scheduled to pass through here tomorrow, therefore we decided to cut the rice in the second field today. Tobi from Berlin and Tsukan from Oregon push the binder that cuts and binds the plants so that the can be hung on the bamboo construction to dry and later be threshed. Thanks to the maintenance work that they did yesterday, the machine runs smoothly. The only problem is that Antaiji’s rice fields never dry completely, therefore the machine gets stuck time and again. Normally it takes only one person to walk behind the machine, but today Tobi ad Tsukan have to push and pull their little friend through the mud.
In the back of the field is an area that is like quicksand. According to Antaiji legend, whoever gets stuck with a machine there will never return to this world. Therefore the lighter ones of the monastics cut the rice in this part by hand. Cutting by hand does not take much time, but making the bundles with a few pieces of straw does if you are not skillful. Today work will be extended by two hours to allow people to tie all the rice plants into bundles and hang them on the bamboo construction.
Almost 30 degrees Celsius! In the southern rice field, the water canal was dug deeper. Tsukan moves the rocks from the bottom of the canal to the area where we are building a new stone wall.
Tobi and Eko have a look at the “binder” that will be used tomorrow to harvest the “Shinden” rice field. This will be the second out of three fields. Day after tomorrow, another typhoon is scheduled to pass, so we hope to secure the harvest by tomorrow evening.
In the vegetable field, Hakue from Mexico is fertilizing daikon radish and Chinese cabbage. She is using the manure from the toilet tank. She has already gotten used to the smell, she says.
Behind the monastery is an old, small shrine, that is taken care of by a Buddhist temple in Hamasaka that belongs to the Nichiren sect.
On this day, many people that used to live in the village that once existed in this area came to celebrate the reopening of the small shrine, taht had been torn down in June and rebuild during the summer, as it had been damaged by snow and rain. I was also invited to join four Nichiren priests in a procession during wihich we carried the sacred object of worship into the shrine.
Inside the shrine were three Shintoist altars, with the round mirrors and paper decorated wards that are so typical of this religion. the “sacred object” on the other hand turned out to be a statue of Nichiren, the founder of a Buddhist sect who lived at the time of Dogen.
The ceremony was very powerful, with a l;ot of chanting from the lotus sutra. The priest also hit flintstones and sparksflew through the small shrine, and at one point everyone hit castanets like crazy. anyway, quiete different from the rather sleepy Soto way of doing ceremonies.