A Misogi Purification Ritual And Temples In Hakusan City – Japan
Waking up bright and early after yesterday’s adventure and headed straight for breakfast before our visit to the Shirayama-Hime Shrine to begin our Misogi water purification ritual.
As we strolled up to the shrine in Hakusan City, it dawned on me how special our Misogi experience was going to be. I’d never experienced any kind of ceremony like this before and felt so grateful we could experience it.
As we entered, we took off our shoes and grabbed a paper collar. This is because you’d traditionally have a kimono on when visiting this part of the shrine, but this can also act like one if you’re not wearing it.
After taking our places in the hall (an essential part before the main Misogi ceremony), we started by going through some initial purifications in the form of prayers. Here, drums were beaten, chants were said and we bowed and raised our heads to pray alongside the Shinto members.
After about 10-minutes, the initial ceremony was over and we headed out for some blessed sake before chasing into our fundoshi (which is a loincloth).
Now, they might not seem flattering but they are totally traditional. It’s like one sheet of cloth that is tucked, wrapped and hauled around your waist to keep your modesty in check. At first, we had no clue how to do this but our Shinto leader helped to prepare us before we headed outside.
With everything tucked, we headed out to the water purification site where the Misogi was about to occur. Now, before entering the water, we did a few actions to awaken the spirit, called furitama. This mainly consisted of clenching our hands in front of our torso and shaking them.
This was all to help us become aware of our spirit within us.
Moving on, we did some tori-fune actions which looked a little like we were rowing a boat. Now, I gathered that the main reason for this was to warm up our bodies for the dip in the cold waters from Mt Hakusan that flowed into the Rockpool. That being said, it could have been for something else, I was just so concentrated on getting everything correct.
Before taking the first step into the water, our Shinto leader said a few prayers which we copied. Thankfully, we had practised a few of these before going out for the Mosogi itself.
This was followed by us shouting ‘yei’ and cutting the air with our hand. This was a sign that we were dispelling our impurity before entering the water itself. The whole process was incredible and with that, we stepped our feet and then our bodies within the water.
They were right, the water was ice cold!
As I sank my torso into the cold water, I properly shuddered. I’m not great with cold water but this was something very special that I couldn’t miss.
After a little time passed, to get used to the water temperature, the ritual purification ceremony started.
This took around 10-minutes and was a chant that we tried our best to follow and chant when we could. Admittedly, we didn’t get every chant right, but as my teacher used to say, it’s the trying that’s the most important.
Honestly, this was one of the most touching and special experiences I’ve had in a long time an something I won’t be forgetting in a hurry. The whole experience was just incredible and without sounding totally cheesy, we both felt so honoured that we were allowed to take part in such a special and important ceremony.
By the time we finished our Misogi water purification, it was lunchtime. So, with that, we headed over to the Niwaka Workshop via a quick little pit stop at an ancient tree next to a religious site.
I still find it so surprising that a tree can be living for hundreds of years… just look at it!
Anyway, I’m rambling and we were actually en route to make our own Soba noodles for lunch.
Now, It might sound easy rolling your own dough and cutting them into thin strips, but trust me, the cutting is hard. I swear I went into this thinking I’d be a total pro but guess what…. I wasn’t it!
After we rolled our dough ready for cutting, we were given a huge bladed knife to thinly cut the soba into strips. Thinking this would be the easy part, I totally let my guard down and made a mess of it!
My strips of soba were so huge! You can even see how jagged and cut they all are. I mean, yeah, it didn’t change the flavour but I certainly didn’t get top marks for effort here. Oh well, at least it was still delicious.
By the time we finished, we were totally stuffed. We’d obviously made more soba noodles than we could have managed. Though, that’s never a bad thing when it comes to noodles. 😉
After lunch, we headed out on a short drive to the Shiramine Hakusan workshop that’s got every kind of silk weaving imaginable. Now, I can’t say I’d normally find this interesting but I’d never really tried any kind of weaving before so what did I have to lose!
Once we entered, we had a little run-through of silk production and took the reins in making some of our own little goodies to take home. Now, I wanted to weave a scarf but I was politely informed that might be too ambitious for a newbie. So, we settled on a coater!
After a quick swish of the machines and a few caught fingers, I’d managed to make a pattern of a coater that roughly looked like something I’d be proud of. I mean, It was my first time after all.
Then again, Yaya took to this like a duck to water and instantly made a really neat little coaster that he proceeded to show off. I’ll give it to him this time, he was probably better. 😉
By the time we finished, it was around 3 pm and I knew we wanted to visit the Hayashi seiji Hakusangezanbutsu and possibly see some of the historic buildings before heading to our Ryokan up in the mountains.
As soon as we arrived, I spotted the Buddha statues that apparently come from the mountains themselves.
Some even date bake centuries and they were incredible to see.
Plus, it the buildings was so beautiful and totally gorgeous. It was well worth a fleeting visit before leaving for the hills.
Along the way, we came across some of the most incredible views, especially over the lakes and into the mountain ranges of the Ishikawa Prefecture itself.
The whole region is totally stunning.
In hindsight, I’d have probably skipped the silk weaving and headed out to explore more of the countryside here…it was stunning. Though, Yaya wouldn’t have it any other way… I think he has a talent for weaving now! 😉
After about 40-minute drive, we reached Hakusan Ichirino, which is actually a ski resort with ski slopes in the winter months.
That being said, we visited during a heatwave and it was hot with not even one snowman in sight!
After checking into Chirino onsen Gooin, which was a little more basic (but no less comfortable) than our accommodation the night before, we decided to head straight for a different kind of dinner.
It was a fondue with a twist!
Typically, when we’ve had fondue in the French or Swiss Alps, we’ve had them with bubbling cheese and copious amounts of crusty bread.
For this one, however, it was a frying fondue where we got to fry out meats, vegetables directly in front of us.
I’d never had this before and although I’m not overly keen on oily food, it was delicious.
Now, one of the main reasons for staying in this area was to see the Hakusan Ichirino Illuminations which happens every year during the summer months. For this, the ski runs are filled with thousands of LED lights that shine brightly across the area.
As the sun begins to set and we ate our final fried veggies, we are given some of our own lights to add the hill lights. This was so lovely and kind and we couldn’t resist the opportunity to leave a little beacon of our own, too.
So, after dinner, we hopped out to the ski slopes themselves. All the lights are solar-powered and come on when the sun goes down, which makes it that bit more green.
After placing our lights, we strolled on through some of the lines and watched the lights twinkle. As we wandered closer, you could really see how gorgeous it was. It lights up the slopes and it was a pretty magical sight.
What a great way to end the day.
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