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AKI MEGURIHISTORYTOKAIDOYAMATOSHIKOKU


 

Aki Meguri

History: Prospectus

English Support Request

[This is the text of an e-mail I sent to my English-speaking friends.  I made an error, though: I sent it from my new (at the time) e-mail address, to large numbers.  Many of my friends, especially in the U.S., failed to recognize it as anything except "junk mail," and so discarded it.  They didn't know what I had done until much later!  Much of this duplicates materials found in "A Mission to the Gods" and the Support page.  It was also sent out in Japanese.]
Dear Friends,

This letter contains two important bits of news, an offer, a request, and an invitation.  Please read it thoughtfully.

NEWS ITEM #1:  I'm leaving

I'm leaving my job (soon), and I'm leaving Japan (eventually).  After 4-1/2 years of working for Aeon, I will be leaving the company on August 29th.  It has been a great job, and I leave it reluctantly, but there are other things I want to try.  I need to return to L.A. to do some of those things--at least for a while.

BUT I will stay in Japan until December.  I'm planning to undertake a major project here.  The rest of this letter centers around that project.

NEWS ITEM #2: A three-month pilgrimage

Since coming to Japan, I have wanted to take two long walks: one of about three weeks, following the route of the old Tokaido Highway from Tokyo to Kyoto; and the other of about six weeks, around the island of Shikoku to visit the 88 temples of Japan's oldest pilgrimage.  And since one can walk from Kyoto to the Shikoku ferry in less than three weeks, I've decided to do it all in September, October, and November, in one long trip.  Between the Tokaido and Shikoku portions, I have chosen to walk through the Yamato area, following old roads wherever possible.  I will pass through Uji, Nara, Yoshino, and up to Mount Koya-some of the oldest and holiest places in Japan. Mount Koya, for example, is the final resting place of Kobo Daishi, Japan's most famous saint, and the man who--in legend, at least--founded the Shikoku pilgrimage.  [Note: the Yamato portion was subsequently truncated into a few days of train rides, and the Shikoku portion was only about 50% on foot!]

THE OFFER: Your intentions

This leads me to the offer.  In the old days--just as today--few people could get away for a pilgrimage that would take months.  So, often, a village would get together into a sort of "mutual aid society" and appoint one member to go on the pilgrimage for the group.  He (usually "he") would represent their requests at the shrines and temples along the way.

I would like to do this for you.  If you will send me your intention, I will solemnly promise to present it:

  • at least once a day on the Tokaido and Yamato portions of the walk, including in front of the Daibutsu (Great Buddha) of Nara, and in front of Kobo Daishi on Mt. Koya; and

  • at every one of the 88 temples on Shikoku, meaning an average of almost twice a day.

What qualifies me to do this?  Well, for one thing, I will be walking, which is a sort of offering of discipline.  I will also be keeping the pilgrims' vows: I am already a vegetarian, and abstaining from sex won't be much of a problem.  In addition, I will not drink alcohol during the trek, and I will be endeavoring to control my speech, by not lying, speaking ill of others, and so on.

What sort of intentions can you express?  Traditionally there are two kinds.  The first is a request.  This is where you ask for something--a new job, success on an exam, a wife or husband, health for a loved one, a good school for your child-or non-personal things, such as an end to domestic violence, or for world peace, etc.  The second type of intention is thanksgiving for any the above that have already happened, or just simply for the gift of life itself.

Please send me your intention by e-mail to james-at-connectedjapan.com [now defunct], and I will present it as faithfully as possible.

THE REQUEST: Your contributions

Let me be perfectly clear: I will present your intention whether you make a contribution or not.

But there is a kind of cosmic principle that says if you are serious about a request or thanksgiving, you will do something to show your sincerity.  One thing you can do is to agree to express the intention YOURSELF for as many days as I do.  Another would be to pray for me as I carry the intentions of many.  And of course another would be to contribute financially to my trip.

Three months is a long time to be "unemployed"-and homeless!  There will be lodging expenses (though I will sleep out as much as possible).  I will also be putting up a homepage as I go along, so there will be Internet and telephony expenses.  And a man's gotta eat!  So your help would be appreciated.

The people in the old days understood this.  The "mutual aid society" was truly mutual: the people who sent the man on the journey paid his way, and often pitched in to help his family while he was gone.

How much should you give?  Anything would be appreciated (and as I said even no contribution is perfectly acceptable).  But as a guideline, I have set up three "circles" where your name can be listed on my homepage (unless you specify that you wish to be anonymous).  The three circles are:

  • The Kannon Circle: 3300 yen or $33.00 (US) or more, representing the 33 manifestations of Kannon, the god/goddess of mercy

  • The Tokaido Circle: 5300 yen or $53.00 (US) or more, representing the 53 post stations of the Tokaido

  • The Kobo Daishi Circle: 8800 yen or $88.00 (US) or more, representing the 88 temples of the Shikoku pilgrimage

Please tell me by e-mail the amount you wish to contribute, and I will send you information on how to make your deposit or deliver your donation.

AN INVITATION: A party

Finally: If you are in the Tokyo area on Sunday, September 2, please come to my send-off party at 1 p.m. in Minami Nippori Park (send for directions).  My friends will shave my head, I will don my walking clothes, and I will have my last drink before I hit the road.  On September 4th-a lucky day in the Japanese calendar-I will set off from Nihombashi in Tokyo.

If you are in the States in December, I will be having a homecoming party in Los Angeles in December.  Stay in touch for details.

Please:

  • Send your intentions by e-mail to james-at-connectedjapan.com

  • Let me know if you plan to make a contribution at the same address

  • Come to the party if you can!

  • Check my website frequently: www.connectedjapan.com

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and please keep me in your thoughts.

Yours,

James

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