Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Butterfly Effect

"It has been said something as small as a Gaikokujin attracting stares in a country town like Saijo can ultimately cause prices in Tokyo to increase, a typhoon of monstrous proportions in Kyushu, and Japanese people to pronounce the letter 'l' perfectly in English."

Gaikokujin Chaos Theory

The unpredictability of a complex system. That's exactly what we've got here. At least the weather is consistent around Hiroshima - rain, rain, and rain. Try explaining to Japanese people that there exists a place in the world where it can be 90 degrees Fahrenheight one day and 30 degrees the next. A place where you can experience all four seasons inside of a week. A place that doesn't really care about time. Is there such a place, in this world or the next? It's called Texas.

But for now, the rainy season is Japan is nearing the end. No more consistent thunderstorms, rather just earthquakes, threats of typhoons, and the approaching snow. Well, I like snow.

The forecast


The shrines in Japan are remarkable. There are many in Saijo that are completely inconspicuous unless you make a point of looking for them. One in particular that caught my eye is right behind Saijo Center (although the baseball field next door takes away a little of the majesty). While I was in Hiroshima, I observed the behavior of a family entering a standard shrine on Sunday. The "ritual" is not as remarkable as some religions, but I will nevertheless try to take a decent video next time I observe the proceedings.

Whoever chooses to visit a shrine should observe the following: upon crossing the threshold, some shrines require that you take your shoes off. Some only require this inside the actual building - just watch what other people do to be safe, because this is one time and place you should definitely NOT assert your foreign behavior. There will be an urn, a jar, or a bowl to pay homage. I don't know the proper amount of Yen, but saw a family toss in a few coins. Following the homage, one member pulled on a rope to ring an ancient bell one time. Then all members bowed and began an interesting series of claps - I can't remember the sequence. Finally, a prayer or chant was uttered and the "ceremony" was complete.

This may vary from shrine to shrine, religion to religion, maybe even person to person. However, I will visit the same shrine in Hiroshima to get more specific details: the Shirakamisha Shrine.

When the rainy season does finally end, there is a path behind Hiroshima station that gives you access to about a dozen shrines in a rural, unpolluted environment. I will wait to see for myself if this is worth the trip, but it sounds very appealing.

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