An alert has been raised after the largest active volcano in Japan began spewing plumes of smoke and ash nearly seven miles into the sky. The Japanese Meteorological Agency issued its third highest alert after Mount Aso exploded in the early hours of Saturday morning, ejecting volcanic rock and ash 6.8 miles high. It also warned of heavy ash fall within 16 miles north east of the mountain. Footage on Japan’s NHK public television showed orange flames on several locations on the mountain top.
Japan: It was 3:30 in the morning and the only sounds in the temple were of the summer rains pouring off the tiled roof and the keisaku slaps upon the shoulders of those of us sitting in meditation.
Kenchoji Temple, pre-sunrise.
A keisaku is a flat board made of oak or chestnut that looks something like a miniature cricket bat. When it’s brought down upon your shoulder, the amount of pain it causes is entirely up to the buddhist monk by whom it is wielded. I’ve sat in zen meditation at temples where the keisaku slaps have been firm but gentle, and others where the slaps border on abuse, welting the shoulder, flooding the system with adrenaline, giving you such a high that your eyes roll back into your head and your arms pop with goosebumps.