After arriving at
Nachi Taisha on our last leg of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage, climbing the Three-Storied Pagoda and viewing Nachi Waterfall, I thought it was the end of the journey. But there was more.
Descending again after ascending so much on the journey, Hirou Shinto Shrine offered us an up close and personal view of 那智滝, Nachi no Taki, The Nachi Waterfall. The Torii gate at the entrance beckoned us to enter once again the dark and glorious woods, promising more transcendent experiences from being at one with nature.
Descending down the stone steps once again surrounded by trees gave a sense that everything up until now had been preparatory. Now we were getting up close to the real thing. This leg of the journey seemed even more beautiful than all the rest. Perhaps it was because the green fecund surroundings heralded that sacred water was near.
For 100¥ you can get a Sakazuki, cup, Shinpai, sacred cup, and drink the Enmeisui, Longevity Water. By drinking the sacred water from the waterfall that is available to drink with the cup from a dragon-topped fountain, it is said that the sacred water will give you a long life.
Nature worship rituals’ power comes from the physical re-enactment of the myth. The purpose of myth, Mythologist Joseph Campbell said, is to put the mind in accord with the body and the body in accord with the environment. That’s when the boons come. You realize that you are cosmopolitan, a citizen of the cosmos and are identical with its powers.
The nagas are water spirits.
那智滝, Nachi no Taki. A platform leads to the closest spot to witness the waterfall, hearing its roar and feeling its spray of sacred water on your body to awaken your being to its at-oneness with everything. It’s here, praying at the foot of this great and ancient site of reverence that solidified my Faith in Nature.
We should cherish the earth and conserve nature! Jackass Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Good thing Japan didn’t and joined nearly 200 other countries that did! Science is real, because nature is real. And nature is sacred, so science doesn’t have to be something evil or atheist as some people think, it’s just part of nature and all things are nature things, whether you believe in a religion or not!
Even rocks are sacred in Shintoism. This straw rope, shimenawa, reminds us that kami resides within and is sacred.
Naturally once having descended to the waterfall, you have to hike back up again! And naturally, after such a mythic journey and pilgrimage such as this, now it’s time for the heroic return! Back to civilization. How will that fare?
Goshuin of Hiro jinja Shinto Shrine, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan