and my face moves in stillness

The Waking BY THEODORE ROETHKE I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. I feel my fate in what I cannot fear. I learn by going where I have to go. We think by feeling. What is there to know? I hear my being dance from ear to ear. I wake to sleep, and…

On Jinja

Filled with an aura of the sacred, Shinto shrines act as resting places and spiritual homes for the local gods (kami). Shrines need not be buildings, but can manifest in stones, trees, or mountains. There are more than 100,000 Shinto Shrines in Japan, and nearly every neighbourhood has their one; community members will often go to…

Toppled Houses and Typhoons

Just 20 minutes away, the dregs of a typhoon dubbed Tropical Storm Etau from Korea brought extreme wind and rain to eastern Japan. The Japanese government advised nearly 3 million people to evacuate. Landslides dragged cars off the roadside and split highways, while flooding forced townspeople to seek refuge on rooftops. Houses floated away, toppled over…

Kamikawa: haven for love hotels and strict rules

There seems to be a strange dichotomy between the outrageous and the restrained here in Kamikawa. For example, while this tiny town in the countryside is famous for a long strip full of themed love hotels, it also extremely conservative. While folks are taking an hour long “rest” inside, outside, on the street, women cannot…

Vista

I found a piece of New York in rural Japan. The mountains and hills stand guard over the prosperous fields of Kamikawa. I asked Alyssia: “Why is the little dosojin wearing a bib?” Apparently the locals dressed these crossroad deities with clothes to pay their respects. In return, the statues protect the village from evil influences. There is…

like a summer flower

blue dragonflies shimmer and coast above the rice paddies, the cicadas weep, the farmers flaunt their wares (pears) beside the busy highway, the car bumps and rolls under rain, over potholes in the small street beside the cemetery. the chestnuts drop heavily onto the cement in the backyard and inside, the children sing in faltering English. ___…