Tuesday, December 31, 2013

X-Tour: Wakayama & Koyasan Tour, Japan 2013

The group at To-daiji Temple, Nara

Acho Rinpoche with Venerable Mori Taikou
After visiting Shandong in May and Mtn. Wutai in China in Sep this year, we started planning our next trip to Sri Lanka in Dec. Joanne was the one planning the Sri Lanka tour but in Oct, while we were still discussing if we should do our trekking on a sacred mountain in the middle of the night, Joanne suddenly told me that her family was not going for the trip. Nevertheless, she would continue to help us do the planning. Reason being, she promised her kids earlier that she would bring them overseas at the end of the year but her kids were not interested in Sri Lanka. When Joanne consulted the tour agent, Cathy, who arranged our last Bhutan trip, the latter suggested “Wakayama”. I had no clue where Wakayama was until I read a brochure given by Cathy later. It was actually a new Japan tourist spot which has become popular in the recent years. When I continued to read the brochure, I was surprised to find out that Koyasan was actually within the Wakayama Prefecture! At the time, Nelson from Australia informed me about some Japanese spirits approaching him, requesting our visit to Japan to help deliver the souls of the sentient beings there.
So, a group of thirty of us embarked on yet another extra-ordinary tour to Japan on 15 Dec 2013, accompanied by rainbows throughout the tour……
We visited Shikoku and Koyasan 16 years ago. How time flies! How impermanent life is! During that tour, we followed the track of Master Kukai (Kōbō-Daishi, 774–835) who founded Japanese Vajrayana Buddhism. Actually, my first connection with Japan started way back in 1989 when I made a one-month trip to Japan, representing Singapore in an ASEAN exchange programme. I was in Saga-ken of Kyushu, when I visited a big monastery of the True Mantra School of Japanese Vajrayana Buddhism. And I fostered a very close relationship with the abbot of that monastery after the visit. Doctor Qiuji was my host during my stay in Japan then. He saw me doing my daily prayer at his home and therefore, he asked me if I would be interested to visit a big monastery in Saga-ken. However, the students of the abbot who answered his call told him that his teacher’s schedule was full, with meetings scheduled up to two months later. On the next day, Doctor Qiuji and I went ahead on our own to visit the monastery. To our surprise, the abbot was standing high up on the staircase leading to the monastery, awaiting our arrival. Later, he told us that he had a dream last night, in which Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara told him to cancel all his appointments on the following day and await the arrival of a practitioner from the Lion City of Singapore.
Through an interpreter, the abbot told us that he saw Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara sitting above my crown. He invited me into his personal shrine with a huge Acala statue being enshrined. Initially, he performed some ritual and gave me blessing. Suddenly, I told him that I would like to give him blessing and consecrate the statue of Acala instead. He appeared to be very happy after receiving the blessing from me and thanked me several times. He told the interpreter that he saw me transforming into Acala during the blessing! He was very happy that I gave him blessing and consecrated his Acala statue. He also said that I was chanting an ancient Acala mantra transmitted secretly only to the abbots of the True Mantra School. Later, he offered me a monk robe and a rosary of Japanese Vajrayana lineage, symbolising my superior connection with the Japanese Vajrayana lineage.
On our first day of arrival in Japan, the winter season has already started in Japan. However, we saw lots of red maple leaves in the vicinity of Wakayama Castle. Actually, Wakayama Prefecture is the warmest place in Japan during winter; its temperature has never fallen below zero degree Celcius. No wonder we could sing “Maple Love” while enjoying the sight of snow at the same time! Koyasan was covered by snow everywhere. It snowed on our very day of arrival in Japan. Our Japanese driver told us that of course it does snow in Koyasan but the snow has never been so thick! Well, that appeared to be a snow of blessing celebrating our arrival! We, the sons of the tropical Lion City, felt exhilarated by the beautiful snow, and  we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly playing snow-fighting in Koyasan like kids.
Rainbow has never missed its promise. This time, rainbows followed us closely wherever we went. Rainbow appeared for the first time during our visit to Negoroji Temple. Venerable Mori Taikou was the monk who showed us around the temple during the visit. He had been to US in the past and read the book entitled “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” written by Sogyal Rinpoche;he felt deeply touched by the book. When he found out that I was actually from the same Nyingma Dzogchen School as Sogyal Rinpoche, he knew that we had a very close spiritual connection with each other. On the third day, a huge rainbow arc appeared near our hotel.  On the fourth day, after our lunch, another huge rainbow arc appeared in the sky. On the last day, yet another rainbow appeared in the sky when we arrived at Todaiji in Nara.  There was a cloud in the shape of a Three-legged Sacred Crow that appeared next to the rainbow, and a huge white lotus appearing in the form of cloud too. The Sacred Crow has a long history and connection with Japanese Shinto and Japanese Vajrayana Buddhism (True Mantra School of Koyasan). There was little wonder that the Sacred Crow showed itself and protected us throughout the trip.
We enjoyed the tour while doing our spiritual practice simultaneously throughout the trip. This trip benefited both the spiritual and human worlds tremendously; it was full of the radiance of Buddha Light. Our Japanese tour guide, Chiyoko San, knelt before me on the fourth night, taking refuge in Acho Rinpoche. She invited us to visit Okinawa next, as the souls of the spiritual beings there need to be delivered. Reason being, when Okinawa was invaded by the American soldiers during World War II, the Japanese soldiers and civilians were forced to retreat to the southern part of the island but most of them ended up killing themselves in the sea eventually. On the very last night of our group practice, I asked the group if anyone would want to follow me to Okinawa? I got an instantaneous response from almost everyone who said “On!” When will our next trip to Japan be? Well, I shall leave it to the Sacred Crow to make the arrangement…… 
Acho Rinpoche

Pictures: Wakayama Tour Pictures