Saturday, December 04, 2004

Horyuji Temple with moving friends

"Is it not delightful to have friends coming from distant quarters?" The ancient Chinese wise man Confucius said these words in the beginning of the Analects over 2,500 years ago. The words still hold true today.

K is a friend of mine who lived in Tokyo with his wife. They spent happy days there, but they were determined to move from Tokyo to Chugoku area, Japan Sea side.

They planned their moving journey. They bought a Smart, very small car of Daimler Chrysler.
Then, they made their weblog that was opened only to their intimate friends. The site has pictures and comments of customizing their Smart, preparing for their move, and their journey from Tokyo to Matsue by their Smart. They began to move in late November.

They traced back to their memorable places. They went to see their relatives, friends, their first workplaces, and where they first met. They were working towards Kansai.

On the 4th of December, they reached my hometown, Ikaruga, Nara. They had been looking forward to see Japan's first world heritage, Horyuji temple in town.

Horyuji is the world's oldest wooden architecture in existence, established in A.D.672 by a prince regent (nephew of emperor). To make the nation of ancient Japan and rule it peacefully, he established diplomatic relations with China (He wrote the beginning of the diplomatic letter as "From the emperor of the sunrise place to the emperor of the sunset place, I wish you are safe and sound..." So the emperor of China got very angry, but Japan could make diplomatic dialog on equal terms, not as a subject state.), imported Buddhism from Korea, made the constitution based on Buddhism, and established Horyuji temple.

I guided them to good spots in Horyuji and answered most questions about Horyuji for them. Because I had guided friends at Horyuji several times, I had already learned about the temple.
We appreciated the old architecture and statues of Buddha. When I was a young boy, I didn't realize the reason why mature people loved such old things. Now, I can understand the true value of some things, but still can't understand some other things.

We took lunch at the riverside of Tastuta-gawa. It is famous for tinted autumnal leaves and is described in two poems of the Ogura Anthology of One Hundred Tanka-poems by One Hundred Poets, complied in the 13th Century. The anthology is the basic classical refinement for Japanese people (Even nowadays, high school teachers recommend students to learn poems by heart). We enjoyed beautiful red leaves and appreciated the old poem as follows:

No.17: Water of Tatsuta River was tie-dyed scarlet by
maple leaves...? I would never hear such a thing even in the era of God when strange things often happened.

No. 69: The maple leaves on Mt. Mimuro with a storm raging fall and float on Tatsuta River one after another and make a gorgeous brocade.

After appreciating ancient Japanese culture, they left my hometown and went to their future hometown.