Futenma wishes and hopes

Hello Everybody,

It feels like we’ve been seeing a lot of each other this week! So I have been wanting to visit the Futenma Shrine since I’ve gotten here. It’s next to Camp Foster going up the hill and probably no more than a mile and a half from my house. I kept driving past for a number of reasons: not having time to spend, on my way to another place or not having a place to park. That’s the one thing I struggle with here. So I was reading Okinawa Hai – a website I recommend to anyone interested in this blog or Okinawa in general (www.okinawahai.com), and they said there was ample parking. I thought, it’s on, I’ll go on Sunday.

washing hands
Before entering the shrine there is a place to wash your hands. I’ve read left hand gets washed first, let the water fall alongside to the rocks and then the right hand. Some people rinse their mouth out and then place the ladle face down on the bamboo.

Here’s a little information about the shrine from the Okinawa Tourism page: http://en.okinawastory.jp/facility/futenma-shrine  “Futenma Shrine is one of the eight major shrines of the Ryukyus and dedicated to the worship of Kumano Gongen. Within the grounds are the 280 meter-long Futenma Shrine caves. There are three open stalactite grottos within the caves, the largest of these being 6 meters high and 15 meters wide and known as the inner shrine. Many come here to pray, particularly for fertility. Various kinds of fossils are distributed in the vicinity of the cave entrance. Within the caves, earthenware and other objects have been discovered. Prior to World War II, the approach road to Futenma Shrine was apparently a beautiful avenue of pine trees.”

outside
The entrance to Futenma Shrine.

I had read somewhere recently (I think written by an American) that the Goddess was not really happy, so people were staying away, but I don’t know how much reality there was to that.

I washed my hands and saw a bunch of wooden tablets decorated with writing and pictures. A very lovely woman told me that they were people’s wishes. The photo across the top is of these tablets. She directed me inside to gain entrance to the actual cave with shrine.

shrine
These are the gorgeous stalactites looming over you as you enter. The shrine is to the right. I could not seem to get a photo in focus. I am attributing that to the immense power  and energy of the place.

A young lady escorted me and this woman, Miwa (another counselor! We exchanged cards and may get together for coffee) down to the shrine. She took us down the hallway past some intact pottery pieces, bones and a big Shisa. When we got to the bottom of the stairs, the young lady told us we had thirty minutes.  Miwa asked me if I knew how to pray, I said I did not, so she offered to show me. How wonderful! She said she would demonstrate first and then I could try.

She bowed slowly twice, then clapped slowly twice  and then bowed one more time.  Then she turned to me and offered the space.  I thought this was so gracious of her to show me this. I thanked her and went reverently about my business. I kept having the thought that the Goddess was not happy, so I wanted to be extra-respectful!

stalactites
Is this stunning or what? I did not want to leave, but I remembered the clock was ticking.

I met up with Miwa a little farther down the grotto and we started talking, I again thanked her helping me. She left after we exchanged cards, and I thought, those cards with Japanese writing  were worth the price!

IMG_2600
Some of the bones and pottery found within the cave.

There was a sense of peace there and a feeling of energy. I think I will come here from time to time to recharge. So I headed back outside and they have these little oracle cards, which made me think of the Pythia at the Oracle of Delphi. I thought then how many similar concepts transcend different cultures. I then thought about on of my favorite professors of all time, Magister Gascoyne, who told us that they Oracle of Delphi was actually more like the ancient world version of the internet. All the data was kept there. Also they think now that there may have been gasses that were causing these spells from Pythia.

Sorry about that, I just got lost in Ancient Greece, I have a tendency to do that. Anyway, I bought an oracle card for 100 yen (the equivalent of about 87 cents – how can you beat that?). I ended up getting a good one! Yay! Here’s what it said: “The moon is going down behind the mountainside, and is getting brighter the sky in the east.” I only know it was a good fortune, because it said, ‘your fortune – good’.

IMG_2607 (1)
I’m not sure what’s going on here, I think it might be the oracles that were not so favorable.

So on my way out I had to take my photo with a happy lady who was there to offer safety and protection from evil forces.

two happy girls
She’s keeping her mouth shut because she keeps happiness in her mouth.

And here are a few gratuitous shots of the insanely beautiful Sakura that are in full bloom all over Okinawa.

sakurra

horizontal sakura

impossible sakura

I tried to get to the Nakamura House but was thwarted by a giant road running race. Perhaps next week.

I ended up on Araha Beach practicing Saifa in the sand. It was a moment right out of Karate Kid II!

Have a great week everyone!