Today is Friday here! We made it through another week. Today I have cards, a haiku, a song, and some story to share with you.
Cards first…. the card of the Great Buddha in Kamakura, Japan, comes from a private Postcrossing swap with Shiki in Russia. This card was sent in May 2014. Shiki includes a lovely Japanese haiku on the card:
holding an umbrella, and looking
at the picture books in the shop
I have actually been to the Great Buddha, on a school trip to Japan I took in 2008. We were in Japan for nearly a month but that trip was still far too short. Looking back, I feel like I did not pay nearly enough attention to all the amazing places we visited! I remember mostly very silly and random things we did: going to a Denny’s with my host family (it was not like the American Denny’s, all the food was Japanese), subway ads for a ridiculously large McDonald’s hamburger, eating hardboiled eggs cooked in the sulfurous hot springs at Owakudani (the shells were completely black, the egg delicious), and going inside the Buddha at Kamakura.
And the second card, showing the Kumanokodo, a pilgrimage route to the Kumano Sanzan temples, a set of three Shinto shrines in the Kii Mountains. The temples and pilgrimage routes in the Kii Mountains are protected UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This one comes from a private swap with Momoko in Japan, dated June 7, 2014. Momoko used nice stamps on this one.
Sometime around the time I visited Japan (I’m not sure if it was before or after that trip), I learned about the 88 Temple pilgrimage route on the island of Shikoku. For many months I was fascinated by the idea of walking this route someday. I was about 17 years old and therefore felt invincible, as teenagers do. The complete walk is 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) and takes 30 to 60 days.
Oddly, I am probably in better shape to do that walk now than I was when I first learned of it. At the time I lived in a suburb of a very pedestrian-unfriendly city, and we drove everywhere. Now I have lived in Portland permanently for 6 years, and though we have a car, in the last two years I have come to really enjoy taking my time to walk to various places around town. It makes my city seem so much smaller and friendlier to know that I can walk to my friends’ apartment across the river, to work, to the store, to the rock climbing gym across town. (We will, for purposes of this story, ignore the time I was hit by a car. I am fine. Let’s never speak of it again.)
Since our stay-at-home order has been in effect, we are walking more and more. Car traffic is down considerably, so we can walk places that it would otherwise be somewhat unpleasant to walk, because they are too close to busy roads. And when there are no restaurants, bars, museums, or anything else open, walking is one of the few things you can do. Two weekends ago I met a friend and we walked down to Sellwood (a neighborhood south of Portland) and back, about a 9.5 mile walk (15.3 km). We have plans to walk more than 10 miles this weekend, though we haven’t decided where we will walk yet.
Finally, I promised you a song today, and here it is: Love Letter to Japan by The Bird and the Bee. Although I only recently discovered this artist, this song was apparently released around the time I visited Japan.
Hope you are staying well with good music and somewhere you can safely roam, sufficiently far away from other people.