Monday, August 8th, 2022

A brief retreat at Myohoji temple

Photograph of a pair of slippers on a granite step leading up to a Buddhist temple

Sometimes I need a break. My eyes grow tired of staring at a monitor, or inspiration leaves me. The cure is a change of scenery. Not my daily visit to the supermarket for groceries, as much as I enjoy the walk. Somewhere I can wander aimlessly with a camera for an hour.

I'm spoilt for choice. In front of the house is a valley with paddy fields and small holdings that seem to change almost daily. Behind is a mountain trail leading up to some quite stunning views across Kobe. A few kilometres away are the towns of Myodani and Itayado, both walkable in under an hour.

Yet it's a stop-over on my daily grocery trip that calls to me. The temple at Myohoji is a small and unassuming complex by many standards. It sits quietly amongst bamboo and trees and the river, refusing to call attention to its presence. Or the culturally important statue of Buddha reclining.

It's a relaxing place, somewhere I can go and sit with my thoughts for an hour. It always starts and ends the same way: sitting on a bench admiring the panorama of the main hall, the statues, the bell. If I close my eyes I can picture every small detail. I can feel the warmth of the sun and softness of the wind, and hear that same wind rustling the tall bamboo.

Every visit also uncovers something new. A detail I'd missed before, or an interplay between nature's changing seasons and man's need to worship. I marvel at these moments and enjoy them, allowing myself a self-congratulatory pause. And a photo.

My visits to the Myohoji Temple last an hour at most. It seems this is all I need to recharge my batteries and reset tired eyes and mind. I offer a few coins as a token of appreciation, then head back into the world, ready to face whatever awaits.

My name is Ross Hori

I'm a freelance writer, designer and photographer. By day I create articles, features and reports. At night I take photos and write fiction. Find out more.