Japan 1983 (Part 6)

October 17

Due to the lack of experienced trumpeters, the end of the world has been postponed for three weeks. ~ Unknown

Picking up where we left off in Shuzenji, “located in an inland region of Izu Peninsula and noted for its numerous onsen hot spring resorts. The area is also noted for its production of wasabi and shiitake” (Wikipedia).

[There are five red bridges crossing the Katsura River, which runs through the center of Shuzenji Onsen. If you cross all five bridges while making a wish for love, it is said to come true (ana.co.jp). I didn’t know about that wish at the time . . . ]

[Toku leads a walk through the downtown area. I believe that is the entry to our ryokan . . . ]

[And from the entry, you cross over the river in an enclosed bridge to the guest rooms . . . ]

[And here’s ours. Classic Japan with the rice paper walls and tatami mat floors . . . ]

[The sit on the floor tables, with full size chairs on the “porch” for tourists. The room likely looks exactly the same today . . . except for the TV!]

[Looking out our bedroom window . . . ]

[I still have vivid memories of this because it was so cool. The enclosed bridge back to the office and main entryway . . . ]

[And the view from that side . . . ]

[Beautiful example of Japanese shakkei, the principle of incorporating background landscape into the composition of a garden . . . ]

Design is a vital component to the enrichment of our everyday lives. Japan has a very rich history and culture of design, and I feel it is a very important dialogue to open and keep evolving. ~ Issey Miyake

[The office, with our guide in his ever present brown suit, where one drops off one’s shoes in favor of slippers. A Japanese tradition nonpareil (I seldom wear shoes in the house) . . . ]

It seems the best approach for any venture is a combo platter – Japan’s quality-consciousness paired with America’s willingness to experiment and (sometimes) fail. ~ Daniel H. Pink

[With Toku and Roy in the foreground and Craft Gallery in the background. Craft Gallery? You think this place caters much to American tourists?]

[Daruma stone at the Shuzenji Temple. A Daruma doll is a hollow, round, Japanese traditional doll modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen tradition of Buddhism. These dolls, though typically red and depicting a bearded man (Bodhidharma), vary greatly in color and design depending on region and artist. Though considered a toy by some, Daruma has a design that is rich in symbolism and is regarded more as a talisman of good luck to the Japanese. Daruma dolls are seen as a symbol of perseverance and good luck, making them a popular gift of encouragement. The doll has also been commercialized by many Buddhist temples to use alongside the setting of goals (Wikipedia).]

[At the temple . . . ]

[Shuzenji Temple]

The rest of the world may devour Japanese hardware – from Honda Civics to Sony Walkmans – but Japanese software, such as books, movies and recordings, has had little impact outside Japan. The exception is video games. ~ David Scheff

[With Randy providing perspective, a tall, evergreen coniferous tree, the Hinoki cypress hails from southern Japan. The soaring tree is often used for privacy screens because it’s so tall and dense. It is also a favorite for ornamental plantings, and dwarf forms of this tree are popular for bonsai. Hinoki cypress trees feature globose cones that are 8 to 12 millimeters in diameter. Although dwarf cultivars exist that are just a couple of feet tall, Hinoki cypress trees can grow to be as tall as 130 feet in its native areas (thespruce.com).]

[Stairway to town . . . ]

[Stairway to temple, lined with beautiful, huge cypress trees . . . ]

[I thought I told you not to move?]

[Fine dining in the ryokan. My body was not designed for sitting on the floor . . . ]

[Nevertheless, a marvelous dining experience with Randy, Marsha, Roy and Toku . . . ]

There’s nothing in Chinese culture that is an equivalent of the geisha. It’s so different, so special to Japan. ~ Zhang Ziyi

I’ve been interested in Japan since the 1930s, when I read about Japan’s vicious crimes in Manchuria and China. ~ Noam Chomsky

Japan is a great nation. It should begin to act like one. ~ John C. Danforth

[This is either still on Izu Peninsula, or 131 miles south on Kii Peninsula, or somewhere in between. I have no recollections of this place . . . ]

Well the least favourite question is the one that one’s asked particularly about in Japan is what’s the difference between theatre and cinema and I think, well, that’s about eighty bucks. ~ Andrew Lloyd Webber

[But Roy peruses its beautiful property . . . ]

Japan’s humid and warm summer climate, as well as frequent earthquakes resulted in lightweight timber buildings raised off the ground that are resistant to earth tremors. ~ Harry Seidler

[I like it! Classic Japanesey . . .]

[Our group is about to enter Ise Grand Shrine, Japan’s most sacred Shinto shrine and dates back to the 3rd Century. It is considered to be the spiritual home of the Japanese and its national religion Shinto, and as such receives over six million pilgrims and tourists every year (blog.guijinpot.com).]

[A bonsai display in the temple . . . ]

Sure, President Bush can say that the U.S. government won’t fund stem cell research, but believe me, Japan is applauding. Because they will just do it first and get all the patents. ~ Kevin J. Anderson

[The Ise Grand Shrine, located in Ise, Mie Prefecture, is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu. Officially known simply as Jingū, Ise Jingū is a shrine complex composed of many Shinto shrines centered on two main shrines, Naikū and Gekū. The Inner Shrine, Naikū (also officially known as “Kōtai Jingū”), is located in the town of Uji-tachi, south of central Ise, and is dedicated to the worship of Amaterasu, where she is believed to dwell. The shrine buildings are made of solid cypress wood and use no nails but instead joined wood. The Outer Shrine, Gekū (also officially known as “Toyouke Daijingū”), is located about six kilometers from Naikū and dedicated to Toyouke-Omikami, the god of agriculture, rice harvest and industry.  Besides Naikū and Gekū, there are an additional 123 Shinto shrines in Ise City and the surrounding areas, 91 of them connected to Naikū and 32 to Gekū (Wikipedia)].

[Purportedly the home of the Sacred Mirror, the shrine is one of Shinto’s holiest and most important sites. Access to both sites is strictly limited, with the general public not allowed beyond sight of the thatched roofs of the central structures, hidden behind four tall wooden fences. However, tourists are free to roam the forest, including its ornamental walkways which date back to theMeiji period. During the Edo period, it is estimated that one out of ten Japanese conducted an Okage Mairi pilgrimage to the shrine. According to historical documents, 3.62 million people visited the shrine in 50 days in 1625, and 1.18 million people visited the shrine in three days in 1829 when the grand festival held every 20 years was held.  Because the shrine is considered sanctuary, no security checkpoints were conducted, as it was considered sacrilege by the faithful. The two main shrines of Ise are joined by a pilgrimage road that passes through the old entertainment district of Furuichi (Wikipedia).]

[From one of my all-time favorite books, The Woman in the Dunes, by Kobo Abe (I also would recommend a similarly bizarre novel by Abe, The Box Man) . . . ]

I’m sure that President Johnson would never have pursued the war in Vietnam if he’d ever had a Fulbright to Japan, or say Bangkok, or had any feeling for what these people are like and why they acted the way they did. He was completely ignorant. ~ J. William Fulbright

Up Next: Part 7, or the complete history of music . . .

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