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October 2005 Archives

Here are a few (non-digital, scanned) photos I took of Meiji Shrine. Forgive me for the quality of these pics, but I took these with a disposal camera purchased on locale.

Here are a few (non-digital, scanned) photos I took of Hoboji Temple in Niiza, Saitama.

I home-stayed in Niiza (a suburb of Tokyo) for a while and had the the *rare* honor (for a gaijin) of ringing the Hoboji Temple Bell. Yes, I am the blurred soul in the pic below. (Alas. This is what inevitably happens when you hand your camera to a stranger when you wish to capture a key moment.) The resulting sound, of course, was greater than any visual depiction.

One food I thoroughly enjoy and eat rather frequently is "Sushi". As you are no doubt aware, Sushi is an umbrella term and can include anything ranging from raw cucumber wrapped in rice to raw sea urchin (uni). I initially cringed at sitting down at the sushi bar and ordering what I wanted, usually a wide assortment of this and that, without really knowing what I was ordering in terms of carbohydrates.

The real (low carb) diet killer with sushi is the rice, one little cup of which carries with it 145 g carbs. Anyone who has eaten at a Japanese restaurant, whether you had sushi or not, will attest to the likelihood of your eating at least one cup of rice. So beware.

Even in the West we imagine that objects particularly beloved by a person prior to their death might somehow wield a supernatural quality -- as if the intensity of the departed soul's affection for the object becomes a part of the object itself. Stories to this effect abound in traditional Japanese folk tales.

The following tale is of a sorrowful young woman's most beloved possession, an ornamented purple robe like the one her only true yet fleeting love had worn. By confessing and dedicating to the Buddha her unrequited love for the young man, not even the power of priests and temples would be able to protect themselves from the robe's strange power upon her passing.

In his book entitled "In Ghostly Japan" (1898) Lafcadio Hearn writes:

I once knew a fortune-teller who really believed in the science that he professed. He had learned, as a student of the old Chinese philosophy, to believe in divination long before he thought of practising it. During his youth he had been in the service of a wealthy daimyo, but subsequently, like thousands of other samurai, found himself reduced to desperate straits by the social and political changes of Meiji.

It was then that he became a fortune-teller,--an itinerant uranaiya,--travelling on foot from town to town, and returning to his home rarely more than once a year with the proceeds of his journey. As a fortune-teller he was tolerably successful,--chiefly, I think, because of his perfect sincerity, and because of a peculiar gentle manner that invited confidence. His system was the old scholarly one: he used the book known to English readers as the Yi-King, (aka I-Ching) --also a set of ebony blocks which could be so arranged as to form any of the Chinese hexagrams;--and he always began his divination with an earnest prayer to the gods.

I guess I stayed up a little too late last night. When I looked out the window it was already getting light outside. So I decided to take a walk and watch the sun come up. Here are some of the photos I took.

my personal vices are far too many to list here, but I feel compelled to mention the following.

Meerschaum pipes are formed from a rare and highly porous clay found exclusively in Turkey. Though initially white they become a deep rosy brown as they absorb the smoke of the tobacco. These pipes are famous for their smoking quality and artistic carvings.

I purchased the following pipes from AND Meerschaum whose service and quality I wholly deem excellent.

Some folk tales of the Japanese point toward a particular event or ghoulish monster which the reader, if lucky, shall never truly encounter. There are other tales, however, which are aimed at explaining phenomena that we mortals cannot possibly escape, and the following tale is precisely of this sort.

Perhaps more theological than superstitious this tale was contained in a "fragment" of a text happened upon by Lafcadio Hearn. The force of the tale is undeniable even to contemporary readers who are indebted to him for preserving it for Western audiences in his 1898 collection entitled In Ghostly Japan.

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