Japan 1983 (Part 7)

November 9

Well, you live and learn. Then, of course, you die and forget it all. ~ Noel Coward

After the 20 Magical Musical Tour postings and some sort of national election, it’s time to return to 1983 Japan. As you may recall, I could find no documentation of this trip and have to recall these photos from memory (unlikely) or extensive Google and Wikipedia searches. The “extensive” part is what cools my jets about delving into this again . . .

[When last we left you we were at the Ise Grand Shrine (upper right on the map) . . . ]

[And I think we’re still at the Grand Shrine here, having a walkabout . . . ]

Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. ~ Kakuzo Okahura

[The Inner Shrine (Naikū) is one of the two main shrines making up the Ise Shrines in Ise City. Formally known as Kotai Jingu, the Inner Shrine enshrines Shinto’s most venerated deity, the Sun Goddess (Amaterasu Omikami), and is considered Japan’s most sacred shrine. The Inner Shrine is believed to have been established over 2000 years ago. Its main buildings resemble ancient rice granaries and are built in an architectural style that shows almost no influence from the Asian mainland because they predate the introduction of Buddhism. Both, the Inner and Outer Shrine, are rebuilt from scratch every 20 years according to an ancient Shinto tradition. The 62nd rebuilding was completed in 2013. The 63rd rebuilding will take place in 2033 (japan-guide.com/e/e4300.html).]

[A typical visit to the Inner Shrine takes between 60 and 90 minutes and starts from the Uji Bridge, an approximately 100 meter long, wooden bridge across the Isuzugawa River. The bridge has two large torii gates, one at each end, which are made from the former shrine building’s main pillars. The shrine grounds fascinate through their simplicity, as visitors encounter little more than gravel-covered walkways and wooden, barely painted shrine structures, surrounded by a serene forest (japan-guide.com/e/e4300.html).]

I thought that I would never see, a tree this much larger than me . . .

If your computer speaks English, it was probably made in Japan. ~ Alan Perlis 

[Because of following pictures, I have every reason to believe this is a Toba Bay beach . . . ]

[The Toba Bay area, just east of Ise, is important for . . . ]

[This I remember for reasons unknown? Meoto Iwa (or the Married Couple Rocks) are two rocky stacks in the sea off Futami, Mie. They are joined by a ‘shimenawa’ (a heavy rope of rice straw) and are considered sacred by worshipers at the neighboring Futami Okitama Shrine (Futami Okitama Jinja). According to Shinto, the rocks represent the union of the creator of ‘kami’, Izanagi, and Izanami. The rocks, therefore, celebrate the union in marriage of man and woman. The rope, which weighs over a ton, must be replaced several times a year in a special ceremony. The larger rock, said to be male, has a small torii at its peak. At dawn during the summer, the sun appears to rise between the two rocks.  Mount Fuji is visible in the distance. At low tide, the rocks are not separated by water. Okitama Shrine is dedicated to Sarutahiko Okami and imperial food goddess Ukanomitama. There are numerous statues of frogs around the shrine. The shrine and the two rocks are near the Grand Shrine of Ise, the most important location of purification in Shinto (Wikipedia).]

[And a great site for group tour bus photos . . . ]

[Mikimoto Kokichi Statue located in Toba . . . ]

[The Mikimoto Pearl Island (Mikimoto Shinjujima) is an excellent museum about pearls, pearl cultivation and Mikimoto Kokichi, the pioneer who first succeeded in cultivating pearls. The island is located in the Bay of Toba, accessible via a bridge. Mikimoto Kokichi was born in Toba in 1858 and became the first person to successfully cultivate pearls in the year 1893. He opened the first Mikimoto Pearl Store in 1899. The Mikimoto Kokichi Memorial Hall introduces his life story. Also located on the island, the Pearl Museum provides detailed explanations about pearls and the cultivation of pearls in Japanese and English. In the adjacent Pearl Plaza you can view and purchase a wide variety of pearl jewelry (www.japan-guide.com/).]

[Sorting by size, color, etc., etc. Why yes, I did buy some pearl necklaces for the folks back home – and the Super now wears the one I bought for mom . . . ]

[The Mikimoto Pearl Island also offers hourly performances by female pearl divers, known as ‘ama’ (lit. “sea women”), who have traditionally been planting and harvesting the oysters (and other seafood) (www.japan-guide.com) . . . ]

[Japanese tradition holds that the practice of ‘ama’ may be 2,000 years old.  Traditionally, and even as recently as the 1960s, ‘ama’ dived wearing only a loincloth. Even in modern times, ‘ama’ dive without scuba gear or air tanks, making them a traditional sort of free-diver. Records of the female pearl divers, or ‘ama’, date back as early as 927 AD in Japan’s Heian period. Early ama were known to dive for seafood and were honored with the task of retrieving abalone for shrines and imperial emperors. Ama traditionally wear white as it was believed to ward off sharks. Early divers wore only a loin cloth but in the 20th century the divers adopted an all-white sheer diving uniform in order to be more presentable while diving.  Pearl diving ama were considered rare in the early years of diving. However, Mikimoto Kokichi’s discovery and production of the culture pearl in 1893 produced a great demand for ama. He established the Mikimoto Pearl Island in Toba and used the ama’s findings to grow his business internationally. Nowadays, the pearl diving ama are viewed as a tourist attraction at Mikimoto Pearl island.  The number of ama continue to dwindle as this ancient technique becomes less and less practiced due to disinterest in the new generation of women and the dwindling demand for the diving women. In the 1940s, 6000 ama were reported active along the coasts of Japan while today ama practice at numbers more along the scale of 60 or 70 divers in a generation (Wikipedia).]

[We were advised on this trip that after much experimentation Mikimoto determined that broken clam shells from the Mississippi River provided the best irritant for the oysters to produce the best pearls . . . ]

So, bottoms up!

[I believe this is a green tea field . . . ]

[And then it happened. The next several pictures are of a river boat ride. And though I well remember the ride, I cannot find any information about it – the whys and wherefores – even after hours of scouring the internet . . . ]

[A Minnesota guess would be fishermen . . . ]

[A twin boat to the one we were in . . . ]

You cannot call yourself a true geisha until you can stop a man in his tracks with a single look. ~ Arthur Golden

[Shore lunch?]

[The sun roof was open . . . ]

In Japanese we have a word for those feelings that are too deep for words: yugen. Yugen gives us a profound sense of the beauty and mystery of the universe. ~ Dr. Qing Li

[Roy popped out for a photo op . . . ]

Living in a world such as this is like dancing on a live volcano. ~  Kentetsu Takamori

Hatred of domestic work is a natural and admirable result of civilization. ~ Rebecca West

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. ~ Carl Sagan

He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others. ~ Samuel Johnson

[A group photo op not unlike at Wedded Rocks . . . ]

I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial. ~ Irvin S. Cobb

[Everything is f-stops and shutter speeds . . . ]

[On the road again looking for a place to rest our heads . . . ]

[And here we are . . . ]

[I believe we are in the Todaya Ryokan in the Toba Bay area . . . ]

[But don’t hold me to it . . . ]

[Remember rotary dial phones?]

[Highlighting Ama divers, women of the sea . . . ]

Experience is a good teacher, but she sends in terrific bills. ~ Minna Antrim

Up Next: Continuing Japan 1983

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