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Travel

The Maternity Shrine

This post caught my attention now that I am a mother. I certainly would no longer simply consider this shrine creepy like I did in 2011. Something else must have fascinated and saddened me about it then, too. There is so much hope and longing for a child and for a safe delivery out there. I wish I had visited again when I was pregnant.

Edited on January 26, 2022.

Photo by H. McGaughey

Kyoto, Japan I took this picture on a neighborhood tour near Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto. This shrine is located in what looks like the garden of a private home. I did not catch the whole explanation, and I can’t find any information online, because I don’t know the name of this shrine. So, here is the story as I remember it told by the guide.

Categories
Travel

Battling a Dragon on Mt. Takao

In this post, I mentioned that I was a Master’s student. I occasionally went to Mt. Takao on my own back then because there were always people there, which gave me a feeling of security.

Edited on January 26, 2022.

Tokyo, Japan It’s quite some time since I wrote. Last week, I successfully proposed a topic for my MA thesis, so I should be able to take it a little easier now, or so say some fellow students, but my mind is already full of how I might construct this massive academic text in the next few months. So, I’m sorry if this blog has fallen out of my awareness a little.

There is, however, a story I would like to tell about a small excursion I embarked on shortly before my thesis proposal. I was so overwhelmed with having to summarize all my thoughts in a page-long summary and with the crazy heat that is of course normal in this part of the world at this time of year, that I fled to a nearby mountain for a hike.

I came to a place where shrines to Buddhist gods are placed in three little caves. A few people had taken cover there and one woman sitting on the ground at one of the altars was chanting the name of the Amida Buddha as she struck a gong on the ground.

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Uncategorized

Farewell to a Friend

Taken near the Komaba campus of the University of Tokyo. Photo by H. McGaughey

Tokyo, Japan Reading a academic article today, I came across this poem by Retired Emperor Go-toba written when his loyal courtier Fujiwara no Ietaka was about to leave the island where Go-toba was exiled.

Categories
Food

Sweets Wrapped in Oak Leaves

Edited on January 31, 2022.

Kashiwa mochi, sweets wrapped in oak leaves for children’s day. Photo by H. McGaughey

Yokohama, Japan Today, May 5 or 5/5, is Children’s Day, one of the string of national holidays this week. These holidays are collectively known as Golden Week, which doesn’t mean much to me, because my academic work doesn’t end, but it’s really nice to see people enjoying themselves at the neighborhood park or among the crowds in Shibuya, where I ran errands yesterday.

I didn’t realize until I looked it up just now that today is called Children’s Day and is supposed to be for both genders as of 1948. I thought that strange, because I somehow thought it was Boys’ Day, considering the images of Kintaro (the golden boy) and kabuto (samurai helmets) that contrast with the dolls of Girl’s Day, celebrated on March 3 or 3/3. Politicians can change the name, but they can’t change traditional festivals, I guess. It’s just unfortunate that in effect, “children” means boys today. I’m all for the boys having a festival, but call it what it is!

Categories
Travel

A Pilgrimage to Kumano

Lightly edited on January 31, 2022.

A stretch of the Kumano pilgrimage trails near Nachi Taisha. Photo by H. McGaughey

Yokohama, Japan At the end of last summer, which ended in late September for me on the Japanese academic calendar, I realized I had not taken advantage of my free time and decided to leave the Tokyo metropolis on a little trip. Photographs by a friend of mine who had been to Kumano earlier in the year had caught my fancy, and combined with the significance of Kumano as a pilgrimage destination in the Japanese middle ages, I thought it a suitable place to go.

I went for a total of two nights, staying at an onsen resort on an off-season, no-meals attached rate. The complex was in a small valley surrounded by greenery, which was a beautiful respite after a hot summer in the city. The day I arrived, the weather was rainy, and the forests and mountains were interwoven with low clouds that snaked through valleys and between trees like dragons.