Here’s a joke. Don’t feel offended.
goes to see a doctor.
He tells him:
“When I touch my body with my finger, it hurts.
When I touch my head, it hurts,
my legs, it hurts,
my belly, my hand, it hurts.”
The doctor examines him then tells him:
“Your body’s fine
but your finger’s broken!”
– Abbas Kiarostami, Taste of Cherry (1997)
I decided December will be a movie month. I’m gonna watch as many Kiarostami films. Maybe not all though, save some for later, ‘cause no more coming from the maestro.
Photos are from my trip to Sado, early August 2003. Shot, with a single use camera I got in a hurry at a kiosk somewhere, from the last ferry boat of the day, my way back to Tokyo. On the isle time passed like a deep sea current, with the kind of depth that does not weigh. I watched for a long time the fading silhouettes, its picturesque rocks and the dark sea widening between us.
Yesterday I closed my eyes and consumed a semi dried persimmon from the island. Sugar in the fruit spoke to me in Sado, and the characters I met there came to life again: silver-scaled sushi fishes in clear teal sea that gets cold at 3pm sharp, a crane with black and red design who had to nearly brush this tourist’s windshield, a coffee at the goldmine that came with a surprise gold flake floating.
Then I thought of the film, words between a man and his third passenger, the depth that doesn’t bind. And the director who passed last July, the way he used time as his medium, and the subtext that does not force meaning.
(The persimmon in question is sold under the name “Anpo”. Melty on the inside, look for the ones from the island.)
(Jizou: a Buddhist rock statue, its humble presence usually found on roadside, in a corner of a temple, as a requiem for departed, an aid for suffering.)
Best jizous I’ve ever seen live in my neighborhood. Their stone-made presence weighs of the spirit. I sit and ponder on their shrine’s faded wooden verandah. So lucky, ain’t I. Then I glance over, their expression exudes. Surely honey, indeed, and that is quite so with everybody. Lucky, everyone, in ways no one else can know.
Carved, most probably by a monk on pilgrimage, he won it within himself, to let it speak through the simplest of lines. You ought to know simple is hard, creativity brutal, what you got inside, turns up regardless. That’s quite alright they say, they are the best jizous I’ve ever seen.
Red of the lilies around them somehow look the deepest. Someone who knew, once stood here. I think of the monk, the time he lived long since past, chiseling in bold, determined strikes, what he conveyed a timeless truth. Walking back to my car I find, in a bouquet of my favorite lilies, a glimpse of my own lucky bouncing in my arms.
All photos were taken on last Sunday of September 2016, at a location, best remain undisclosed, where I regularly raise a cup to our individual luckies.
About a month ago the year turned. While it was turning I rushed to a close by temple for the once-a-year opportunity to hit a big bronze bell they got there with a rather large log positioned to swing horizontally.
The bell is there year-round but I waited a whole year, for I feel too polite to just walk up there any old time and hit it as I like, the booming resonance it produces.
I had an opportunity to talk with the head monk afterwards, a carefree random chat the first thing in the year. He shared with me what’s been taught to him;
to find “Hotoke” – by whom no words be voiced – listen to the water, the wind…
The footage’s of the sea lit with the first sunlight of the year, coupled with the booming bass from the aforementioned bell.
That is what brings everything together really, the boom of the bell, so do make sure to boost the lower frequency.
This year summer arrived late. Right when it did, I headed west in my little Honda. Along the coast of the Great Channel of Far East (formally known as Japan Sea), until I hit the region called San-in, “in the shadow of mountains”.
I’ve taken city street, cutting through “Japan Alps” at midnight (not the smartest idea), so as to really hear cicadas sing, millions of trillions of them. Each and every mount tall and small buzzed like it is a space craft about to take off, sound that goes well with the blazing summer sun.
Beaches of San-in have minimum dose of concrete holding them in. Mounds of thriving woods in sharp angles and rocky little picturesque islands grow out of glassy teal sea. They perch at the edge of water, appearing wild, but also somewhat reserved. Polite yet unrestricted, the harmonious anarchy.
While treading water impressed, ocean decided to rush into my snout, sending an army of microorganisms as plenty as cicadas in summer hills, on a mission to unlock my senses from inside out. Thanks to them the buzzing intensified, and for a few moments I felt I could almost ‘get’ what their song is all about.
1 and 2 – Tango Peninsula, Kyoto
3 – Yasugi Beach, Hyogo
4 – Aizu South, Fukushima
5 – Kasumi, Hyogo
All photographed earlier this month.
Heartfelt “Thank You!!” to all of you generous souls I encountered during my trip.
(This post is unrelated to nationalism, activism, buddhism or martyrism.)
I study society by asking Google simple questions. One day I felt like finding out what other people think of this country. Well look what I found…
None bothered me except the 3rd. Feeling lucky? You bet! Don’t worry though, ’cause I was just wondering that myself.
In fact I was thinking, maybe that’s the reason why I own a surfboard, although originally the purchase was made for something else.
My neighborhood guys weren’t so happy…
Sinking? What do you mean sinking??
We aren’t sinking, are we sinking?
Calm down fella, your face’s all red. At our age you may want to start winding down, loosen your knuckle and exude the serenity of divine calm…
Oh quiet you pastel-palmed you, and your fuzzy rosy cloud of calmness you’ve been standing in for last 700yrs. At this point nothing can shock you awake, not even a dip in the salt water…
But why, why do they think we are….sinking?
Don’t tell me we are sinking…don’t sink…
-end of dialogue-
As 311 approaches for the second time since the big day, I wanted to clear some air in regard to our living on the edge of the seismic-atomic goings-on.
I heard talks online speculating on Japanese, that we are either in denial, naively misinformed, or staying put due impoverishment. I also noticed some of you are concerned but too polite to come out and ask (thank you for thinking of us). While I surely have no answers to any of the above, why not offer you my humble 5 yen that I think have earned through living on the east half of the island, not too close to get scorched but close enough to feel the fire.
From what I’ve seen and heard in real life, I can safely say everyone’s taking calculated risks, opposed to passively waiting for a direction. They seem to know what they want, what they can handle – emotionally/psychologically, especially – and ways to find the “path of least resistance” , so to speak, in accordance. Without being vocal about what that is, mostly out of consideration for each other – as choices we’re having to make in relation to our new state of being could be highly personal, and often of a delicate variety.
We who live in the nation, may be in this together, but what I keep noticing is the strength, perhaps at deeply hidden core of each, to stand in one’s destiny alone.
And choose the path, suited only for the individual. People know themselves, and we are all so different. Although part so alike, still so different.
Now back to the temple where the above guys reside. The place was built in Heian era, been 900+ years and counting. Sit sturdy on bedrock, built to last. Located in nondescript rural hillside, a nearly secret haven for this gem. Hazard of the hood being wild boars. Edible yes, but often unfriendly and very genki.
The Head Priest, friendly, was the one crafted all the candle holders. They were for the New Year’s eve count down event, the countless candles lighting the temple’s narrow pathways, flickering against the tall black trees in the background.
So this was my first travel guide post. You will have a hard time finding a place like this one without some helpful guide going on and on about everything that’s inviting. Oh, my pleasure, stay tuned for more.
By the way, I heard Japan is about the size of the state of California, though haven’t found the time to confirm with Google about it.