Monday, October 01, 2007

Rakanji Temple

After our big day yesterday we took it a little easy today and headed up the ski lift to the 500 plus stone statues in the caves. (Those who are reading this for the first time please check out this link to read a little more about them). I always enjoy heading up to this temple, but one thing that really struck me today was the smaller cave which contains many carved stone figures dedicated to babies who died before they were born and children who died when they were very small. Here the parents or relatives can write their thoughts and prayers on a wooden spoon and place it like an offering to the gods.
When my father was here he was also impressed by the way the Japanese are able to express their grief over mis-carried and still-born babies. Often in New Zealand there is no way to do this, but after reading messages from the parents today I was moved by the fact that they were able to use this place as a means of dealing with their grief. There were some messages expresssing hope that the dead baby would be finding happiness in heaven and others which relayed their regret for not being able to care for the baby well enough. Obviously this cannot bring back the babies, but it does seem to help the parents deal with the death and recognise the death in a way that is not always possible in the western world.
That outing was followed by a trip to revolving sushi (can't come to Japan and miss out on that!) and then a meal out with my husband's parents.
Tomorrow Trev and Gill head off on their big adventure to Hiroshima and Kyoto (don't worry Hannah - they are coping with everything amazingly). Their stay has been far too short and we will all be sad to see them go. Thanks Trev and Gill for a great week - we are looking forward to seeing you in NZ soon and of course back in Japan in the near future too!

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