It was an experiment. Science, sacrifice, success.
I can't go hiking with a backpack anymore, since an old injury is causing too many complications. Even my Canon EOS is a tad hefty for this wonky support system called the cervical spine. (It's really not a particularly efficient design: there's too much stuff happening in too narrow a space.)
So I opted for minimalism.
I can't hike in mountains? Fine, I'll walk in my neighbourhood. Can't carry a backpack or even a bag? OK, I'll take my camera, cash and my front door key. That's it. Not even a smartphone. I defy any Tokyo woman to go for a 3-hour walk with nothing but a camera, cash and a front door key. I can think of two who'd accept that challenge: a friend who's an anthropology professor who's gadded about in deserts for months on end, and Kaori, who's a barbarian from Okinawa.
|Enma, the king of hell|
I walked from Asakusa to Monzen-Nakachō to say hello to the king of hell. He's been ruling my life lately, so I thought I'd pop in and tell him to … well … go to hell. Then I walked back. It was about 10 km in total. I had a faint headache when I got home, but it was ignore-able. No migraine, no nausea, no blurred vision.
The lord of the underworld has many different names: Enma or Yenma, Enma-ō (King Enma) and Enma Dai-ō (Great King Enma). He's one of the twelve devas (kings of the twelve directions in esoteric Buddhism), and he's the chief judge in the afterlife: when people die, they have to appear before Enma, who decides whether they are good or bad, and then sends them to the appropriate afterworld.
I met him at Hōjō-in (法上院), established in 1629 in Fukagawa. It has the largest seated statue of Enma in Japan: it's 3.5 m high, 4.5 m wide and it weighs 1.5 tons.
"Now listen, boet," I told him, "we all know I'm doomed to go to hell, but this ain't it yet. It's still this world, here, now. So enough already with this pain crap. Put a sock in it and save it for later. You'll get your chance, but right now yamete bugger off tjaila time. Come back later. Kbye."
Enma glared at me. I glared back. He sneered. I snarled. He sulked. I got stroppy and left.
He won't leave me alone quite yet, but I'm not going down without a fight. Hmph.
|Enma is in there, behind glass.|
The temple also has a collection of paintings of hell, but it's usually closed to the public. I saw it years ago during a shichifukujin meguri (seven lucky gods pilgrimage) in that area. I've included a few photos from way back when.
I'm going to stop now, because skewwhiffy necks and computers aren't best buddies. I haven't – as per usual – responded to all previous comments yet. You know I will, eventually, one day.
Patience is a great virtue.
|Jizō statues with babies. Jizō, the protector of children and travelers, always carries|
a staff with six rings that jingle to warn animals of his approach.
|These statues are in an exhibition hall at the temple. It's not always open to the public.|
Ditto the paintings of hell below.