One of the advantages of going on a trip that someone else has planned is that your expectations can be tremendously off-base when it comes to what you were planning to do on any given day. This is what happened to my on our trip to Nachi Falls - my excitement turned into amazement, which transitioned into overwhelming wonder as we hiked along the Sacred Kii Mountain Range pilgrimage route and explored increasingly impressive and wondrous monuments.
We began our hike at what looked like any other trail head. My expectation for the day was that we would hike up a little valley and see a cool little waterfall. This is what the "waterfall" near my house growing up in San Diego looked like:
We were all in good spirits and the trail head had hiking sticks we could borrow!
We walked up a pleasantly constructed stone path through a hilly neighborhood and past fields of flowers until we reached a red bridge. Our guide Misako stopped us and told us that after crossing this bridge, it was said that we were entering the spiritual world.
This was because we were entering the Sacred Kii Mountain Range pilgrimage route, where devotees had walked for to see sacred temples and natural wonders imbued with spiritual qualities for 1200 years.
Like the many pilgrims before us, we were pretty short of breath before reaching the top.
At the top, I was astounded to find two beautiful temples, one Shinto and one Buddhist. The Shinto temple had this wondrous tree cavern that we could enter and leave wishes. Did I use the word wondrous multiple times in the same blog post? You betcha.
Walking down the other side of the hill from the temples we caught our first glance of the falls. Wow.
We were told that drinking water from the falls would prolong our lives. One sip was ten years, two sips was twenty years, but three sips was just being greedy. Such is the logic of the spiritual world.