My Sketching Pilgrimage


It has been a while since I decided to make the pilgrimage up the mountain to the local temple. I’d have to say that living next to Hozanji has been one the biggest neglected treats that I am slowly learning to take advantage of.

After taking a few friends up on a mini tour to see the area yesterday evening, it reminded me of all the beauty Ikoma has to offer.

With some inspiration from the dinner guests yesterday, I decided that today I would spend a good chunk of time sitting and sketching something up there.

I wanted to pretend I was not in my area and forget about work and all of the things I make my brain think about these days.

Walking up the mountain is a workout in itself with steps leading all the way to Hozanji. Along the way you can find anything from hippie cafe’s to accessory shops, to my friends bar to tea houses. There are tons of hidden paths just waiting to be discovered.

I bowed at the gates to let the deities know I was going to be around for awhile. I entered and started to look around for something to draw. I couldn’t find anything that drew me in immediately, but I started a conversation with the old monk in the shop exchanging dirty ten yen coins for polished ones to offer to the gods. A question about the correct way to throw the coins into the box lead to a rant for an hour about the small differences between people who know how to pray and those who just go through the motions. In the middle of our conversation I got my sketchpad ready, and started to draw his post. I took breaks in between and he showed me pictures from him preforming the fire ceremony and images from when he first got purified to be a monk. Old, old photos of him struggling to stand under a waterfall in Kyoto, the strong current pushing him down to the rocks.

Making a long story short, I got a few history lessons while sketching in a temple in Ikoma, Japan. I finished off the day with frozen fingers, a relaxed mind, and delectable tea.

There are a lot of lessons that can be learned from the temple, but also many I learned on the way home from the chill feline who has nothing better to do than lay around and love on visitors that stop by for a pat. Today really was a treat, in more ways than one.



I found the cranes


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Over some lovely bread and a cup of coffee, a friend and I talked cameras. I was telling him about how I wanted to buy a decent camera to start taking good photos because my Itouch just wasn’t cutting it.

Even though this conversation happened last week, looking back I realized that I had fallen into the same rut that many people stumble into the, “I can’t do ABC now until I have a good-quality XYZ”. He quoted a man from Youtube saying, “The best camera is the one that you have on you”. I have heard alterations of this phrase before, but this time it got stuck in my head. I tried to apply it to other parts of my life and I found quite a few areas I should change. One of them being travel.

I have always encouraged people to travel in their area and that it can be just as interesting as taking a plane to a different country, but I was not walking my talk. I would make the more comfortable decision to go home and relax instead.

A few days later, I got the idea in my head to find the cranes that I see from my living room window. On my way home, I would always silently wonder what they were building or how long it would take to get to them. I decided to not leave those unanswered questions under the rug (no matter how mundane they might have seemed).

I took my bike and rode down the hill, and as I rode I reprimanded myself for this being the first time to explore in the four years I have lived here.

I am always around people, and this was the first time I had some alone time without family, friends, or internet. It was quite refreshing and I let my mind go off on some tangents. Some of the stray thoughts that I had were these:

For some reason, I don’t like to show my face in neighborhoods. I don’t like it when I pass people and they stare. It makes me feel self-conscious; like an outsider. I can’t do anything about it, but probably a feeling I should deal with in depth. 

Answering the question as to why I don’t try to explore the area more: I think I know my neighborhood well therefore it is predictable and uninteresting. My brain believes that nothing too out of the ordinary can happen on my turf.

All I want is to have the time to do what I want to do. To travel, to spend time with friends and family. To make art. Is that too much to ask? It just might be when our ego gets in the way. It thinks it’s trying hard. It thinks its putting in long hours and emotional effort. But what it doesn’t know is the number of doors that were left unopened simply because the mind whispered to itself, “I did my part. I don’t have to try harder”.


With random thoughts floating through my head I managed to find the cranes. It was not a huge event in my life, and I probably will not remember this story to tell my grandchildren; but I did it. I found the cranes.