Flo’s boyfriend, Tom, from Australia is in town, which means that everyone is up for day trips. I was invited to tag along with the happy couple and Jess to Haguro Mountain in Yamagata. The weather was misty and overcast which made for a really eerie and beautiful day. The hiking path consisted of 1000 steep and different sized steps. Along the way, we stopped at Sasagawanagare, a small salt factory, a Japanese Garden, and then a place that had a real mummy. Apparently this guy mummified himself 125 years ago, and now his rotting body is on display alongside his calligraphy work and other Buddhist statues and whatnot. From what I gathered from the genius brains of Flo and Jess, people who thought they had some sort of importance in the world would try (and mostly fail) at mummifying themselves in order to reach the supremest state of Buddhism. It’s a process that took 5-8 years of self-poisoning, starvation, and enclosure. This guy definitely succeeded in that process and is now completely dead but NOT rotting. Apparently there are only about 20 in Japan!! Unfortunately photographing was not allowed.
Away from the sea, and into the mountains, the rain let up and was replaced with a mystical fog. Along the hike/steps were interesting bridges, a 5-story pagoda, waterfall, clearings, birds, frogs, hundred-year-old trees, torii (traditional Japanese gates that mark the transition from the profane world to the sacred world) shrines, and statues. Jess said something about there being four stages of stairs. Some were SO steep and narrow while others were questionable as to whether or not they actually counted into the 1000 steps. To make one stage go faster, Jess and I tried to race up the steps, though we were only able to make it half way before I started to feel the fatigue all the way in my fingers. The way down was even more of a challenge as the steps seemed steeper and narrower and were wet. I had no idea that today was going to be so magical!!