Kyoto 2 - Kiyomizudera Temple June 25, 2010 10:13
In the United States, a tourist attraction might be the mummified corpse of an obscure gunslinger with a stapled-on dolphin tail, advertised as a real mermaid, lying in state behind a gas station.
In Japan its more likely to be a solid granite temple built by master artists, frequented by real spirits and demons.
In this case it is a truly amazing temple built to channel a natural spring which has been running constantly since, like, eight hundred years ago. Otowa waterfall. It is part of a large complex of buildings and temples at the foot of a mountain. People stand in a short line for their turn to capture a little cup of water from one of three streams coursing above their heads. Each stream has a specific in its properties. Drinking the water of the three streams is said to confer wisdom, health, or longevity. I was told that drinking from more than one was considered bad form, and may bring misfortune.
I wasn't sure if the order of the streams went from left to right, or right to left. So I didn't chance getting the wrong thing, and just watched from a distance and took pictures of everyone else drinking. I'm not sure about the power of the water, but the temple seemed to bring a lot of happiness indeed.