Volunteer guide: Hongu, Shingu grand shrines

Mi-Kumano guided a Croatian traveler who came to see the Kumano Hongu Grand Shrine and the Hayatama Grand Shrine in Shingu.

This is the seventh time he had visited Japan, so he knew the proper manners for visiting a shrine, like how to wash his hands at the handwashing station.

In fact, he has studied Buddhism and the Kumano mandala pictures, so when his guide gave a simple explanation of Kumano’s mix of Buddhism and Shinto, he replied with quite complex vocabulary, surprising everyone.

He purchased an [ema] wooden prayer board, and wrote a wish for his son’s health.

At the Hayatama Shrine, they were lucky to catch a wedding in progress. Then they climbed to Kamikura Shrine, which has a great view of Shingu, the Kumanogawa River, and the ocean.

With a little extra time, they visited Shingu’s famous floating island, which is an island that formed over a deep swamp; there are many species of plants there that don’t often appear together.

The last activity of the day was a guided narration through the Nachi Mandala, in which one of our members explains the mandala by narrating as if you were actually walking through it.

Our guest said that he really felt close to the history and culture of Kumano, and enjoyed his experience here.

For our volunteer guide, this experience was a unique chance that exemplified the idea of “ichi-go, ichi-e”, which encourages us to treat each experience and each person as if this were our only chance to meet.

Kumano is a wonderful stage for our guides and guests to have encounters like this.