It took only an hour to come to the huge Jerusalem bus terminal by an express coach from Tel Aviv. From the terminal, I took a local bus to the Palm Hostel recommended by the other travellers. This hotel is owned by an Arabic owner and one bed per night costs only 50ILS(15USD) which is absolutely cheap in Jerusalem. Because of this fact, many travellers visit this hostel from all over the world. At the time, the majorities consisted of Koreans and Germans. According to the owner many Japanese stay there but it was not the peak season of the Japanese travellers. Well, he knows a lot.
Just in front of the accommodation, stands the Damascus gate which is one of the main entrances of the old town and going through the gate I could find the Muslim area of the Jerusalem old town. Fresh vegetables and fruits, colourful spices, bizarre electric appliances, even though the size of the cities were bit different, this scenery reminded me the other Arabic cities I'd passed such as Amman and Damascus and I somehow felt a kind of nostalgia.
Walking for a while, a strict security gate guarded by armed soldiers appeared on my eye sight. As if it had been at the airport, I had to go through the x-ray security check and it was a large Square after the gate. Wearing pure white shirts and deep black suites, having long moustaches, putting top hats, exactly the typical looking Jews were praying against a gigantic wall. This is the famous "Western Wall".
The Western Wall is the only remaining part of the Jerusalem Temple which was the foremost holly place for Jews built by the King David before the Common Era. The prosperity of the old Israel Kingdom had been destroyed by the Roman invasion and since then the broken Jews around the world have been wailing for this tragedy and praying for the rebuilding of the kingdom. Being surrounded by tourists, many Jews were earnestly praying towards the wall. There was a special corner for foreigners and travellers were allowed to imitate praying but this dignified atmosphere hindered me doing so.
Looking up the wall, the Dome of the Rock, the oldest Muslim building is standing behind it. As well as Jews, Jerusalem is one of the holiest places for Muslims. It is said Mohamed, the founder of Islam, had a holy experience flying to Jerusalem from Mecca for one night. Unfortunately, the area itself was restricted for the non Muslim visitors but I could see the golden dome very well from the hill.
Continuing the walking further, I arrived at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is believed to have been built on Golgotha. Well, I might have learnt about the Crusades when I was sleeping on the desk. On the day, I heard Christian tourists singing choirs under the sound of bells.
It took only 2 hours to walk around this course. It would've taken less than 1 hour without any halt and within this tiny area the three big religions called "Abrahamic religions" have their most holy places. I could see the tense atmosphere -Jerusalem is the most contentious city place of the world- from the soldiers everywhere carrying heavy machine guns. However, I felt absolutely safe there too ironically due to the soldiers. Nobody would commit mugging or whatever in front of the machine guns.
Well anyway, religions are so difficult. Since when I stayed in Australia, I've been thinking that humans tend to congregate according to their similarities. Family blood, nationality, gender, school, race, favourite musicians etc., if somebody has the same attribute, we recognise this person is a friend and develop intimacy. On the other hand, if the person has the opposite attribute, we are prone to be exclusive. Religions are the epitome of this story; if they share the same doctrine they can be fellows even beyond nationalities yet they could be brutal to the others if they believe in their god as the only true religion
And Jerusalem has three religions believing their own god is the only one and claiming "this city is ours". Well, it's understandable that this is the most disputed area of the world for ages. I'd like to grumble, "Dear God, how many of you are here and who is real?"
On the other hand, our Japanese view of religions is completely opposite to this. An average Japanese celebrated their childhood at a Shinto shrine, wedding at a Christian church, and funeral at a Buddhist temple. What's more, we have a very busy year ends starting from Christmas(Christianity), end of the year bell(Buddism), and new year visit to Shrine(Shintoism). However, we don't really believe in those seriously, I know quite a few Japanese got confused at abroad when they were asked "Do you believe in the God?"
Speaking about myself, I used to suffer from this but for now I'm actually proud of not relying on anything too much. I suppose, for this reason I can make judgments based on my own value. Therefore if I had to state, I believe in myself and social morality. For instance, speaking about a support to the others, I do it because I want to see their smile not because I was told by God "You can go to the heaven if you do so".
Oh, I've sidetracked from the heavy story. But I don't want to conclude this entry with a cheap phrase like "May the peace arrive soon." as I was forced to ponder over something deep for the human's sin and karma. Mutual concessions, forgiveness, and acceptance, I assume all of us were taught these things in our childhood but a lot of adults all over the world can't follow them. Well, maybe because it's even difficult for adults, we teach them to the children. I wonder when everyone will become capable of these principles..