Holy Days 2- Snowbound
The next day, I headed to Kyoto, which had experienced decent snowfall on the night of the new year. On my way in, I could see vestiges of snow in the shade- a rarity in this area of Japan. I was back in my old neighborhood to visit a shrine.
I had climbed Atago before, early in my student days, but found the shrine was undergoing repairs. Something of an anticlimax. I would be seeing it now for the first time, then. Atago Shrine dates back to the 8th century, and various ancient gods are enshrined there. Among them is Izanami, arch-mother of all the Japanese gods, often overlooked in worship the same way Uranus was the progenitor of all Greek gods but was often forgotten. Before the Meiji government started controlling religion in Japan, the shrine was also a Buddhist temple. So a rather syncretic site.
I was not alone in climbing. The path up to Atago Shrine was full of visitors for the new year- youth, elderly, families with infants. At some point in the 20th century, there was a cable car that ran up the mountain. The foundations and clearings of little shops and teahouses that used to serve its passengers could be seen along the path here and there.
Lower on the mountainside, the trail was muddy and full of the dripping sounds of snowmelt, but three quarters of the way up, the shift in temperature was palpable.