10,000 Gates at Fushimi Inari

Just outside Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Shrine has been around as a place of worship for 1300 years.

It is best known for its row of tori gates, whose red color is said to have powers against “supernatural powers” and also indicates the bounty of the Inari god.

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(This particular spot is featured in a scene in the film “Memoirs of a Geisha.”)

The row of torii gates developed as a custom 400 years ago as donations from businesses to express gratitude for a wish “that has come true or will come true”; there are now 10,000 torii gates within the shrine.

(Incidentally in the film, the young girl runs through the torii gates on the way to the temple to offer a coin in prayer. The scene was flashed back at the ending when her wish came true.)

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One can of course follow the gates all the way to the top of the mountain, about a couple of hours walk though lush scenery.

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A tour of Fushimi Inari won’t be complete without mentioning the white fox, said to represent Inari (god of harvest and business) who protects rice crops from the mice that eat them. A recognition of ecological balance even in the old days.

It’s a good day’s visit — to admire a cultural symbol that has weathered the centuries, or simply reconnect with nature and oneself — something of a treat in today’s fast-paced world.

(Or maybe one can simply offer a prayer of thanks for a wish that has come true or will come true.)


Weathered

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Barking up the Right Tree

A tree wears its life on its skin.

Its roots may be hidden as it digs the ground; the rings in its trunk counted only when it falls. The leaves and twigs may be broken by the wind, but they will grow anew.

The bark shows all the scars of the seasons, the callouses from insects that burrow into it, the small garden of lichen and moss that it carries, the sap that oozes when it is wounded.

If a tree had a heart, it would be in its bark.

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Weathered

When the Winter’s Gone

Winter is here and all the roses lie
Deep beneath the snow
That’s where lovers go
To hide from pain and sorrow

Never for sure when your luck will turn
Waiting out that snowy day

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Pardon me, sir, I think it’s up from here
Take this one from me
One day you’ll feel free
To fly away wherever you want to

You’ll breathe a sigh and see it’s time
To move along

Just a little stronger
When the winter’s gone, when the winter’s gone

– from “When the Winter’s Gone (Song for a Stranger)” by David Benoit and Jennifer Warnes


Growth

A Blog Is a Selfie in Progress

Another year rolls by.

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After all the places visited, adventures and stories, the best ones are the journeys inside oneself.

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The times spent with people who enrich us, who mean most to us, made more precious when they are not by our side.

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The discovery in going to new and old places is not so much what we learn about the place but what we learn about ourselves.

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When we explore nature and appreciate its minutiae, we become part of something bigger, we see not only with our eyes.

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What we share is part of us. But we also keep some, maybe we are still discovering those other parts.

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It is a work in progress, like ourselves.


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