Igo & Shogi
Bathing the Spirit to Expel Evil
|This book (which
we keep at the entrance to the bath) was written for us in
1953 by Mr. Hara, a 78 year old customer of what was then
the Kirishimaya. He also wrote lyrics to many of the Kusatsu
"Not even doctors, or the water of Kusatsu,Can cure the
sicknessOf falling in love"This was a song composed when
he stayed for a while at Kirishimaya and fell in love with
a geisha. Later, after he told her of his feelings and began
a love affair, he penned another verse to create a pair: "But
if you can cure lovesicknessThen by being with the one you
loveYour sickness will also be cured"Unfortunately for
him, his wife later found out about the affair!
During my grandfather's time (when the Kirishimaya group had
just started up), my father lived at Mr. Hara's house from
the late Taisho period till the Showa period. He received
much kindness during his stay, and was able to attend a good
My elder sister and I also had a similar experience - we lived
in Kanda, Tokyo, in the house of a customer named Mr. Koraku,
and attended school there whilst receiving much kindness.
Both Mr. Koraku and his wife were born in the Meiji period,
he was a scholar on Japan, and in fact was the 18th generation
of a family of leaned scholars; his wife was the princess
of a court noble family (a descendent of the famous warlord
Oda Nobunaga), so both my sister and I learned a great deal
from them. In this way you might say that we were on better
terms with our customers than a relative might be.
Returning to the topic at hand - the Bath to Lift Evil Spirits
- below is an extract from a Kirishimaya Group Bookmark.
The "spirit" is human life, cosmic energy and natural
energy. It is the energy of the hot spring. It's what we know
as the soul, as life energy; it's known as run in Tibet, prajna
in India, ruach or nephesh in Hebrew, pneuma or psyuche in
Greek - the same concept can be expressed in many ways. In
the Bible the word spirit appears to represent a living soul
that we can interpret as god. In Buddhism, the spirit is not
considered to be god, but rather one's heart.Japanese people
believe that while they are physically alive, they are simply
borrowing a vessel to contain their spirit (i.e. for their
life to inhabit). For this reason, we believe that we must
treat our bodies with care.
"Bathing the Spirit" implies
bathing in a high class hot spring, and receiving medical
treatment through doing so, but the true meaning is rather
that by bathing in strong natural energy (the power of life,
the power of the spirit) such as the energy one can experience
at a hot spring, one can receive the favor of having one's
life energy recharged This is something one can do at any
time, not only through bathing but by simply eating and taking
walks etc. It also applies quite significantly to the performance
of ablutions and ascetic training such as qigong and prajnayama.
By Bathing the Spirit to Expel Evil, the mind, body and soul
can be purified. In Japan it is like giving thanks to god
for having a bath.
"Expelling Evil" refers
to the strengthening of life power and the expelling of the
causes of illness and diseases from the body which is achieved
by bathing the spirit. When you have bathed your spirit, be
it through taking a hot spring cure, taking a walk, eating
a meal, practicing meditation etc, you attain a state where
you "feel good" and food "tastes good".
We call this the "attainment of balance between body,
mind and soul, a time when we become healthy, well, peaceful
and happy". Bathing the spirit to expel evil has two
effects - it wards off evil spirits and has a baptismal function.
And all this is attained through taking a hot spring cure.
Thinking of the proverb "patience
is a virtue" may aid your understanding. In Japanese,
our equivalent of this proverb is: "spending three years
on top of a rock" (the idea being that if you sit on
top of a cold rock for three years it will become warm, and
similarly if you persevere with a difficult task it will eventually
become easy). Following the same train of thought, consider
the saying "3 months for 3 years". By bathing your
spirit accordingly (for 110 days a year for three years),
you will be able to gain an understanding of the causes of
your illnesses through your environment, food and way of thinking
etc. During this period you will rediscover yourself, and
by taking careful note of the causes of your illnesses the
evil will be expelled. It may help to consider this as being
like Buddhism's "development of the heart".
Hot SpringKirishimaya RyokanDirector: