When you climb Mt Miwa, you’re climbing the side of a kami. This is the goshintai (sacred body) of mighty Omononushi aka Okuninushi, one-time ruler of Izumo. His kingdom was formerly the biggest rival to the Yamato, yet their shrine at the foot of the hill, which claims to be the country’s oldest, honours his memory following the submission of Izumo to the tribe of the sun goddess. Here in the heartland of modern Japan he now serves as tutelary deity, and the folklore of near two millennia are written into the fabric of the place. Beyond it the mixed woodland speaks of the unspoilt lure of ancient times. As I climb I’m aware of entering a different realm: one of birdsong, and autumn leaves, and the wonder of being. A gurgling brook runs alongside the path as it ascends past boulders and through groves to a small dip where amidst the russet browns a small tree dazzles the eye with its vivid yellow splendour. It’s a golden gift from the spirit of place that speaks of an oriental Eden, one with no hint of poisoned fruit or moral fall. Instead, at the summit, stand a group of rocks anointed by a pile of purifying salt while in the clearing a lone pine points towards heaven…
Why hurry and scurry?