Goshuin number 11 is from Zenkō-ji! Wait… Doesn’t this stamp look different from the one you already have for Zenkō-ji? Yes! Truth be told, Zenkō-ji offers six different stamps to chose from. The one shown here is the first stamp; my first one was actually the second. I panicked because it was my first one and just blurted out a number between one and six haha.
When I got this stamp, I was with one of my best friends who lives in nearby Iiyama. We decided to come to Nagano for Christmas shopping and to have fun! And what fun we had. Turns out, there is a path to enlightenment in the back part of the temple. You have to pay 500 yen to access this area, and it looks pretty ominous — a veeeerrrry steep staircase leading down, down …. down….. There are signs in English that tell you to keep your right hand on the wall, about waist height. Somewhere in this PITCH BLACK tunnel is a handle of some sort that will grant you enlightenment if you touch it. And so, with my friend’s other hand on my shoulder, we descended into the dark. Oh. My. Gosh. It was so dark. Sounds kinda stupid, but it’s true. It was the kind of dark I feel could make you crazy if you stay in it for too long. Open your eyes, close your eyes, doesn’t make a difference. My mind started playing tricks on me. I would walk with one hand on the wall and suddenly my mind would start screaming, “YOU’RE GONNA RUN INTO SOMETHING! IT’S RIGHT THERE! STOOOOOOPPPPPP!!!!!” It was crazy. I was super grateful that my friend had been there with me, because without our small talk I might have actually started to panic. Eventually, I found the handle, and so we attained enlightenment 🙂 I have no idea how long we were down there, but it felt like forEVER. Still, I’d definitely do it again, and I recommend it to anyone thinking about going to Zenkō-ji.
Date received: December 3, 2017