If overall we visited less temples on this trip than two years ago, we are still going to pay our respects to Buddha. Thus we go to the city of Usuki (pronounced Husky who knows why…) by train to stroll in the park of 60 Buddhas.
They are carved into the volcanic rock and painted. The colors are also still visible on the best preserved ones. For nature has done its work, the rock is friable, some statues were therefore badly damaged by time. A very important restoration work has been done and the statues are now sheltered from the weather.
I repeat myself, no doubt, but Buddha, I find it relaxing. Here, in this case, there was a lot of representation of Jizo, the protective figure of children. Faces are appeased, slightly smiling, quiet, calm, serene.
We had a beautiful autumn day (without the red maples, we begin to make our mourning…), with an extraordinary light. The Buddha also had the good taste to be located outside of the city, bordered by a forest and a bamboo forest with a pond where lotuses bloom in summer.
On the way back, we decided to visit the Castle Hill and we discover that this weekend, today and tomorrow, takes place the Takeyoi or bamboo lantern festival. We forget quickly the planned visit to the monkey park, to stay here for part of the evening.
Waiting for the dusk, a location scouting is necessary: we go around the old town to admire the illuminations before, and the bamboo decorations. Xim is looking for location where to make photos. We also finally ate what I call “the matsuri kitchen”, my favorite octopus balls, okonomiyaki and a kind of crepe rolled on sticks.
We were in the main temple, which was the start of the procession, when the illumination began. We were delighted to be there right now. And a gentleman very kindly handed us some lighters – gas lighters, that the organizers used to start lighting the candles. And here we are hired to light the candles. It was really nice to not be only spectators and be able to say that we had actively participated in the festival, concretely.
We then let the lights reshape the tower of the city in our eyes, staring at the bamboo sculptures.