Thursday, May 26, 2005

At play with the gods...

On a warm, beautiful, early spring day (which turned out to be a weathercock tease), Local Legends Tim & Zack, a platypus-free Corinne, and I climbed up Kinkazan. It's not a tough hike, about 15 minutes from rice fields to the little shrine built on a lava plateau near the top. This porous rock has long shallow grooves and craters, which seem form-fitted to a body lounging in the sun. We spent a couple hours up here, waiting for the Mothership to pass by and drop Pop-Tarts. (Though our inability to decide on a flavor nearly caused an intergallactic incident.) When she didn't show, we sang mountain ranges (ala Gary Snyder), which segued into a 20 minute symphony of animal sounds that echoed down the valley. Our own giggles served as applause.

Later, I was telling my friend Paaco about our day, and she mentioned that she lives nearby. The shrine's kami are the protectors of her village. She told me that during the war, her grandfather's ship had gone down after an American attack. Of the hundreds of men who went into the water, only a handful came out. Her grandfather floated for days, surviving only on visions of the shrine and on prayers to its gods, who he was sure would look out for him and bring him home.

It's stumbling across these kinds of places and hearing these kinds of stories which keeps me interested in Japan after all these years. Respect.

On the turntable: Fat Boy Slim, "Palookaville"
On the nighttable: Shaun Ryder, "Hallelujah!"

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