A new meetup group in Nara was created and last weekend I joined my first event with the group. Unfortunately though I really did not have time to mingle with the group since M and I arrived early and left early from Ikoma.
The event was called The Ikoma Shoten Equinoctial Week Lantern Ceremony.
With thoughts of gratitude for the universe, country, teachers and parents, the memorial services prays for ancestors and f or the safety of family members by blanketing the whole mountain with 10,000 lit lanterns.
Before going to Ikoma , M and I decided to meet at Ishikiri (again) and get some delicious pickles and maybe hangout a little bit before going since Ikoma Station is just one station away from Ishikiri. But by 3 pm, majority of the stores started closing and when we got to Ishikiri, there were no cafe or even just a place to get a coffee. We found a small supermarket, got some drinks and a small snack and left for Ikoma instead.
We got to Ikoma station a few minutes before 4 pm. We looked for the way to Hozanji and a few minutes later we were already walking up. There is also a cable car that will take you half way, cost about 280 yen. But since the two of us have some time, we slowly walked our way up.
There were already people coming down and some people going up but the road was not yet crowded and some were still putting up lanterns on the stairs.
M and I were amazed at some of the details of design. Some were really beautiful and some are fun to look at.
M and I did not know the schedule of events that day so when we got there we were surprised that the whole placed was already crowded. The main priest was already chanting some prayers and inside the temple, the prayer, wish were already burned.
After the prayer ceremony the priest will led everybody to the topmost shrine all the way to the mountain carrying their candle offerings. We did not know if this was free or not but M and I decided to fall in line and get our candle. It was free.
All set and ready to go. It was a long way up. There were trees and statues all line up in the road. Since the trees were blocking the sun, it made the way really mysterious and eerie. When we got to the temple, we wrote our name and wish on our candle cup and left it there.
Free Koto and Shamisen Performance. While watching the performance , the meetup group finally arrived. We said our hi and goodbyes at the same time since M have to go back to finish her English assignment and my headache was not getting any better. BUT on our way down, we found out that there was a free Tea ceremony going on.
It was really nice matcha and sweet and all for free. The room was all solemn, ladies dressed prettily in there Kimono were graciously serving each one of us. I can’t imagine the work or how tired they were serving hundreds if not thousand of people in a single night.
After the delicious treat, M and I slowly made our way home.
It was great event. I would definitely do this again next year.