Sunday, March 21, 2004

Nothing weighty to buzz in with this entry. I had some time on my hands, by virtue of an extra day off this week, and thought I would spend my time by wisely updating this version of my mind, although it's not all I accomplished today. The rest was almost entirely domestic or just plain unmentionable.

You might think, by reading some of my previous blogs, that Japan was a wasted, modernized, over-laden volcanic rock with nothing more than all of the allure of a cockroach-infested electronica where the people are excessively polite or rude depending upon how you look at them, but that's just not true.

Yesterday, Angela and me went to Ise, which revived our interest in Japan. Ise was a beautiful place on the edge of a National Park and the Ocean. Two of Japan's most esteemed Shinto Shrines are located in Ise. Apparently, there is a mirror housed inside one shrine that only The Emperor can view. Everyday riffraff, like me, and Japanese rabble can only walk to the entrance to pray or throw money on a white sheet which, I suppose, makes it easier to gather. The walk is quite nice, though, winding along a maze of trails, most of them roped off in such a way that you can only go in one direction, through quite large, clean and well-manicured forests. I believe the monks come out at night, and by the light of the moon or the electronic sensors, pick up fallen pine needles. A monk or guardian monk or something broke away from his sacred text and, with gestures, indicated that we couldn't take pictures, but we had already captured the sacred image. This is my vote for signs in English, after all, it is the world's language.

In between visits to the two shrines, Mother Nature did her best to dampen our spirits by raining, but we were determined to make the best of our journey, which was a two-hour train ride from Osaka. We were rewarded for our persistence, as the rain eventually passed by and the sun came out. On our way to second Shrine, we passed through a large old-style shopping area, which was packed with Japanese people eating, talking and making merry. Lots of old buildings and fish on a stick and the like. We were in time to witness the final performance of a Japanese drum quintet, which actually included a bamboo flute player.

Finally, having enough of wooden fences that surrounded the prize shrines and bansai shrubs, we caught a bus to the Ocean. We stopped to view the "Wedded Rocks." Two rocks in the ocean, one big and one not so, with a braided rope lassoed between them. It symbolizes a married couple with a strong bond, and we thought it was apropriate as we're planning our own marriage now. Next stop, Shikoku Island.

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