Spiritual KANSAI Series Blog3 : The delights of traveling around the Kansai area
12 Jan 2021
The Kansai region is a sacred place for Japanese spiritual culture, and Kansai is full of genuine hospitality. We tried to extract various themes and put them together in columns under the title of "Spiritual KANSAI". In this blog series, we will introduce these columns in order. The 3rd in the series is " The delights of traveling around the Kansai area ". (The following text is quoted from the Spiritual KANSAI column page (https://kansaiguide.jp/rt/eng/column/) of this site)
The delights of traveling around the Kansai area
If in Europe we like to say that all roads lead to Rome, in Japan we can surely say that all roads lead to Kansai. Situated in the heart of the archipelago, this region has always played a central role in the history of the country. A political influence, with the first imperial palaces and majestic castles. Then with a commercial aspect, with large harbors open to the rest of the world, but also a religious aspect, thanks to an astonishing grouping of the main temples of the country's most influential spiritual currents.
The philosophy of Pure Land, the majority of Buddhist schools in Japan, have their headquarters in Kyoto. Zen, and its three variants, are divided between the former capital and the province of Fukui. Esoteric Buddhism, for its part, can be experimented at Mount Koya for the Shingon, while Tendai Buddhism has always been enthroned at the top of Hiei-zan, the mountain in between Kyoto and the Lake Biwa which is Japan's largest lake. Even the paths leading to Shugendō, a spiritual tradition that fuses Shinto, Taoism and Buddhism, meet at Yoshino, a territory famous for its landscapes of mountains planted with cherry trees. One lifespan would not be enough to appreciate all the riches that can be found all around the Kansai. At this point to say that the Kansai area is the Mecca of Japanese spirituality, there is indeed only one step.
It is in the curves of the mountains, in the lines of the coasts, in the veins of the roads and in the soul of the inhabitants, that the horizons of the traveller who slumbers inside us are drawn.
A delicate gesture that invites you to take a seat under a sunshade facing the traditional garden. The benefits of the onsen as remembering the journey taken along the old pilgrimage routes that were walked on all day long. The position of the meditating body at the same time so simple but also so complex. The immutable arts that are passed on from generation to generation. The master armed with a katana holding his breath before his demonstration. The wind blowing through the maple trees taking away its yellow leaves that remains the autumn season to decorate your plate for dinner. The intense green of a cup of tea in which to plunge your thoughts. The world begins to breathe and around the Kansai, a region where authenticity is not incompatible with hospitality, echoes of a forthcoming journey are already beginning to appear even though you haven't yet returned home.
Angelo Di Genova