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August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, ...

Nine Headed Dragon Shrine: Kuzuriyu Shrine


In European tradition the dragon is typically fire-breathing and tends to symbolize chaos or evil, whereas in East Asia it is usually a beneficent symbol of fertility, associated with water and the heavens.  Not all dragons have wings, but come in the form of a serpent.

      (" Dragon is also  derogatory as fierce and intimidating person, especially a woman, and like some I have  known" ). 


The dragon is one of the most endearing mythical creatures in the world.   Something about a giant reptilian serpent possessing great magical powers with a charming voice to go along with it.   Or, maybe it's their  huge oval shaped dilated pupils in their hazel split eyes that glare back at you before (she) consumes your whole body in a trail of flames.   Engulfing the whole area in a fit of rage.   Perfume scented wings outstretched - I can still smell them.     Chest swollen and long shimmering black  scaly neck elegantly coiled as she rises up on her two hind legs.   Seconds before my death I steal a look at the musculature of her long hour glass torso and forelegs.   She is so tall and beautifully figured, even in deat~~~~h(....)




This shrine is famous for bestowing blessings upon new business ventures and matchmaking.   Every 13th day of the month there is a festival where you come to the shrine(s)here in Hakone and pay a shinto priest money to pray for your desires.   I say shrines because there are a cluster of shrines in the same area that are all under the same name Kuzuriya Shrine.   And then, there are a few others in other parts of Japan that have associations with this shrine.   One shrine I had been to with a Shonan Jukujo lover is called Togakushi Shrine. tucked away deep in Nagano Prefecture.   The thing to remember when visiting any shrine in Japan is that the water basin is for rinsing your hands and mouth, not for drinking.  This post is only about one segment of Kuzuryu, not the main shrine.  

Lake Ashinoko
I tone mapped the center of the top photo to highlight the bizarre wood growth from this crater lake.  All over Ashinoko you can see trees grow in strange ways.   

Ferry
The Ferry departs from Hakone terminal and from it you can get some amazing views of this crater lake valley that's replete with tiny little torii gates sticking up out of the water.  Sunsets and fireworks shows are the best times to be on a cruise from this boat.

Quietude of Lake Ashi

Gentle breeze moved in from the lake rustling the leaves and ferns.  I could hear the boats creaky sounds from the water.

Giant Keyaki Trees
Off the beaten path, up a meandering narrow patch of earth,  a dense  forest lies ahead.   My destiny is about 3km from the main road atop Lake Ashinoko's dormant volcano crater.    The whole area is a power-spot.  My mission was to tap into some ancient mysticism, and to feel the pulse of a million generations of fervent prayers prayed here.   Welcome to Nine Headed Dragon Shrine.


I love Japanese shrines.   I love how time beautifies shrines; chipped paint, weather worn gates, and growth of strange vegetation.    There's an offering box with money inside from those seeking love, success, and great fortune.   Souls have prayed and died here it feels.   The energy still lingers about.   Not a touristy place at all, but more of a solemn place of quiet reflection and consecration.  A place where souls go seeking miracles and answers to life's most  perplexing question.    I love places like these


Truly a preserve of the rich up here, a place full of lush greenery and thick aromatic shrubs.   The air is clean and crisp and smell of  sweetness from calcium rich mineral springs.   The heavens and the water really do meet here.   If you come here in the mornings you can see a thick foggy mist roll in from the waterfront.  Mystical and enchanting, and a bit eerie at the same time.  



The picture below is a weathered torii gate, and these can be found all over Japan, even as far as Asia

Reaching here you need to take the Hakone Tozan Bus either from Odawara Station or Hakone Yumuto Station bound for Lake Ashinoko.   From Tokyo it's about 3 hours depending on which train you take.   There is another route here as well, so check with your local tour guide.  I came via 50cc.  Liberating not having a schedule and being able to move about freely and being totally alone and in solitude.    Lake Ashinoko is located in Hakone, a pristine hot spring resort town located in southern Kanagawa Prefecture.    



The appeal is the crater lake that has shrines dotted along the waterfront - tiny little shrines with red torii gates.    These little torii are very Japanese and can be found wherever a Japanese has consecrated a place in the name of the Emperor of Japan.   The only travelers who would ever come this deep into the sticks would be someone who has a deep love connection with Japan.   If you are looking for gaudy gum-smacking airheads, and smart phone camera toting freaks you won't find them here.   Somethings should never change.  

looking into the vast expanse of the universe

Prayer:

Ashi-san, according to the Western faith of Christianity, the Bible says in ("Luke 8:17 - "For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light"). Ashi-san, what is your interpretation on this biblical verse? I want to believe that the prayers I have sent up to the universe will be answered and that no secrets will be hidden from me.  I do not know your precepts Ashi-san.  Nor, do I understand the laws that govern the secretive nature of the Japanese race.  Nor do I understand the divine laws of anything.   I am an empty vessel.   I want to believe.  I choose to believe that miracles exist here and the now.   Reveal to me the truth of my love. 



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