Hi everybody! My name is Ali and I teach English conversation in Kawanishi, Hyogo Prefecture at Smith’s School of English Kawanishi (スミス英会話 川西校). I am happy to be writing here on the Smith’s School of English Soapbox and hope you will enjoy reading my posts from here on in.
I have been told that religious scholars have counted up to 8 million gods in the Japanese religion. That may or may not be true, but it sure feels like there can be 8 million passengers crowded on some local trains on a normal weekday commute in Osaka. That is why I enjoy the winter holiday in Japan, a time when people here press a collective national “pause” button, and close down offices, businesses, schools and other work places to relax, spend time with family and reflect on past and future.
I particularly like the sparsely populated trains during the days following New Year’s Day. With this peace and calm in mind, I took the opportunity to take up a friend’s invitation to visit Hozanji Temple on Mount Ikoma, west of the city of Nara. The journey took a couple of changes of train lines from my home, including a ride on a cable car up the mountain.
Being only a few days after the 1st, there were some visitors, but not the throngs that I might have expected. Everything about the day lent itself to a pleasant and refreshing tour.
A temple can be experienced culturally, aesthetically, spiritually, and philosophically, but we preferred a recreational pilgrimage, giving ourselves a chance to renew body and mind. Hozanji Temple’s mountain location provides great views of the city and the sheltering presence of a Japanese cedar forest clears the head and respiration. The fragrance of Japanese incense and the crisp air were enlivening and the architecture and decorative details beautiful and engaging.
My friend shared interesting stories about Japanese history and we had a great conversation about our dreams, plans and aspirations for 2013 over hot udon noodles. It feels as if it is going to be a great year.
I look forward to teaching English conversation in Kawanishi this year to my students at Smith’s School of English Kawanishi.