We drove up Mount Hiei to visit the renowned monastery and temple, it was a trip to find inner peace. Entering the Buddhist Sanctuary, there is a sense of calm and serenity, the air is fresh and crisp! The Sanctuary is surrounded by lush green trees, and there is not a sound in the air except the voices of the monks during prayer time.
We underwent brief training with one of the monks before we meditated. We were taught breathing techniques and the meditation stance. With each breath in, we were to count and if along the way we lost count or our brain wandered, we were to start back at one. Obviously the aim was to focus on our breathing and nothing else! And whilst we were meditating, the monk came round and hit us on our back with a stick. Not sure what the purpose was but definitely part of the ritual of meditating.
Away from meditating, we saw the eternal flame which has been burning for approximately 1200 years. There is a monk dedicated to keep the flame alight. We also were able to ring the bell of good fortune before enjoying a vegetarian feast overlooking Lake Bewa which is the largest lake in Japan.
Visiting Mount Hiei was a soulful experience that we will never forget. The meditation taught us to be mindful, especially in this fast paced society where we forget to take timeout for ourselves and be aware of what is around us.