could two days be more different? Yesterday the weather was
miserable: either it was cold and raining, or hot and steamy.
Today we had blue skies, mild temperatures, and a strong wind.
Yesterday I was wet all day; today I was dry (inside and out--the
wind was desiccating). Yesterday my hat protected me from
the rain; today I couldn't keep it on! (I actually got a
little sunburn on my head.)
Yet it wasn't a perfect
day. Although I set out early, I didn't cover much ground
(for reasons described below). My website still isn't
accepting new material as of tonight. And I'm undergoing
Yesterday I mentioned the omamori
(charm) that fell apart. Also yesterday, I wore through the
rubber tip on my walking stick, and was fraying the end of the
stick by pounding it on the ground. And today, one of the
seams on a backpack strap let loose, so I had to tie the two
halves of the strap together. Geez, I hope my clothes hold
But it was a beautiful day for
walking (without a hat). One of the first places I walked
through was Arimatsu, not too far from Narumi. This is the
location of the dye shops shown in Hiroshige's print.
I didn't realize that at the
time, though. I was impressed enough by the buildings to
shoot them, but I guess I thought there would be more in Narumi
proper. So I missed a chance to duplicate a Hiroshige print
with me in it.
It wasn't until tonight that I
read that the dyeing technique is called Narumi Arimatsu
Shibori. If I had realized that, I may have put one and
one together and done my official shot in Arimatsu!
Tokaido: Narumi, Station
the Old Tokaido
Well, here they are: two
dye-shops in the style I saw today. The area was--and
is--famous for a kind of tie-dyed cloth. Reminds me of the
'60s. I actually had a chance to do some tie-dyeing,
Japanese style, at a crafts village in Shizuoka with my friends
the Maruyamas last year.
The eastern border of the shuku
proper is marked by this lantern. Another like it
stands at the western end of town. This one was installed in
Like yesterday, I decided to say
your prayers early. Too bad, because a far more impressive
temple came along soon. Anyway, this is Seiganji.
It's famous as the site to the first known monument commemorating
the life of the haiku poet Basho.
I had a little help with my
prayers today. An old, blind dog was tied up next to the
porch of the hondo (main hall). He started barking
when I approached, and sang along through my prayers. I had
even gone over and petted him, but he still kept it up. I
guess he's religious.
Yesterday I said, "This is
one of the best ichirizukas I've seen
recently." Well, move aside: the one I saw today is one
of the best ever. And the sign says it's the only one
standing inside the Nagoya city limits. There's an
interesting discrepancy on the sign, though. It says these
were placed every four kilometers, and that this one is 350
kilometers from Tokyo. See the problem? (Hint: how
many times does 4 go into 350?) Anyway, 350 kilometers. Wow!
No wonder I'm tired.
here it is: my official shot for Narumi, station
number 40 on the Old Tokaido.
I'm standing on a bridge leading
into Kasadera Kannon, one of the most beautiful temples I've seen
on this trip. You know, I take things as they come.
But if there were a way to see ahead, I would have said my prayers
here, and done the official shot back in Narumi!
This temple felt very familiar to
me. Over the past few years, I have completed three
pilgrimage circuits which, together, constitute the Nihon Hyaku
Kannon--the 100 temples sacred to Kannon in Japan.
Thirty-three of these are located in the Kansai area; this temple
felt very much like one of those. (Next year, after my Aki
Meguri, I will be building information on the Nihon Hyaku
Kannon into this site. Stay tuned.)
Kasadera Kannon was so good, in
fact, that I've given it a Words and
One official shot after
another. This one's for Miya, modern Nagoya.
(Actually, Miya didn't change its name to Nagoya; Nagoya swallowed
I'm standing by the monument for
the Shichiriwatashi, the "Seven Ri Ferry."
Now, you know what a ri is from all those ichirizukas
I've written about. One ri is about four kilometers.
Shichi means "seven" so this is a 28 kilometer
ferry. It goes from Miya to the next station, Kuwana.
Before I started this trip, I
checked with some friends to see if it were still possible to take
the boat here. (Thanks, Jun!) It wasn't. So I got my
hopes up a bit today when I saw a modern boat dock near the old
pier. Alas, it goes from here to here. A
round-trip sight-seeing boat only. So I'll have to take a
train to Kuwana.
The original light was built in
1625. This replica is the same age as me: we both date back
This picture shows both the light and a bell tower as seen from the end of the dock.
As I walked toward the ferry, I
walked past Hoshoin, a nearby temple. A sign said that this
temple was responsible for lighting the "night light" at
the ferry from 1654 to 1891. An interesting junction of
church and state. (But perhaps "lighting a light in the
darkness"--and saving lives as a result--is a
religious function after all?)
Tokaido: Miya, Station
the Old Tokaido
This print shows a horse driving
final stop: Atsuta Jingu, from which "Miya" gets
its name. Miya, jingu, jinja, and gu are all
words translated into English as "shrine," meaning a
Shinto place of worship.
But this isn't any old shrine.
This shrine is said to own one of the three Imperial regalia: a
sword bestowed by "Amaterasu-Omikami," the Sun
Goddess--and ancestress of Japan's first emperor.
("Atsuta" is another name for her.)
The sword, called Kusanagi
("Grass-Cutter"), was given by Amaterasu to her grandson
Ninigi when he descended to earth to rule Japan. (His
great-grandson, Jimmu, was allegedly the first
"historical," human emperor--but he is now also believed
to be mythical. Yet February 11th, Japan's "Foundation
Day," was chosen as such because it was believed to be his
This sword was found in the body
of an eight-headed dragon slain by Susano-o, the god of storms,
and presented by him to Amaterasu. Later, it was used by
Prince Yamato Takeru. When attacking Ainu warriors set fire
to the grass around the Prince, he used the sword to cut down the
grass. Hence the name ""Grass-Cutter."
The other two treasures were a
mirror and a jeweled necklace. (The mirror is said to be at
the Grand Shrine of Ise--also dedicated to Amaterasu--but I can't
find a location for the necklace.) The Encyclopedia
Britannica reports that the sword symbolizes courage; the
jewelry, benevolence; and the mirror, purity. These were all
given to Ninigi to help him be the ideal ruler.
For all this, the shrine is a
pretty typical large shrine, with tree-lined pathways, various
smaller buildings, some grand old patriarchal trees encircled by
straw ropes, ponds and chickens, etc.
yesterday I ended by saying that I was going to "take the
ferry" today. But I got back to the station near Atsuta
Jingu after 3:00. Given a nearly 1-hour train ride each way,
I would have spent two hours on trains to get in a little over one
hour of walking. This seemed silly. So I called off
the quest early, hence my dismal progress.
I headed into Nagoya station, got
some early dinner, and returned to the hostel. I'll get to
bed early tonight, and (hopefully) get a real early start
tomorrow. We'll see.