In the mall-way en-route to the Dogo Onsen Hot Springs a colourful mural plays hide and go seek with all those imposed in photos. Those who wave between hats and ceramics, between celadon and melamine. This is the economy catering to suitcase sized trinkets. Around the corner the metre square flowers are stamped all over the ground in front of the hot springs. Then from the concrete bouquet emerges a display of fountained water. A dancing before the rain! A dancing in the rain!
The bathing ceremony at Dogo Onsen was a concatenated version for tour schedules. Kneeling meditation and souvenir collection are difficult to juxtapose. Yet the experience was expressed as both introductory and inspiring. A few blocks across town and the Ishiteji temple reaches the street between warehouses and pedestrians.
On the hill above the temple a Buddha towers with an assuring vantage. The temple compound is scattered with buildings and plants and statues and walkways and pagodas and bells unfinished ideas. The stacked stone monument dwarfs the statue of the red Buddha.
A few steps further a threshold, a prayer and then a pagoda rises from the ground with a seismic shock absorbing core and a lightning arrester.
Somehow between the hot springs, the prayers and the statues one would hope to find a stairway to heaven — but as with all truncated experience — there is no elevator. Getting clean and living with acceptance takes time.