Nicholas Quirke was setting himself a slower pace 24 February 2020 after several days of pounding the pavements of Japan. He was going to see another place of worship as he was developing a taste for the Shinto shrines. Like the cities of Europe with their ostentatious onr not so churches, Osaka seemed littered with them. Down little side streets, on the main roads, large compounds, small dwellings, all places of the kami, the Shinto “gods”. These Sacred objects of worship stored in the innermost chamber of the shrine where they cannot be seen by anybody but are visited in order to pay respect to the kami or to pray for good fortune. He was going to see the Sumiyoshi Taisha founded in 211 and it was going to require some rail travel. This was going to be ok as he knew how to get to the station but there the success stopped. He found himself going round in circles till by complete mischance he ended up outside the right platform. He saw google map announce his stop was coming up and when the train stopped he got off, only to discover once he was outside the station it was a stop too early! He went back onto the platform to wait for the next train and as he sat biding the time In the relative warmth of the open air he noticed the sound of birdsong really loud on the platform and thought how charming it was to hear them sing on an inner city station. It delighted him and he even recorded the birdsong for an instagram post, till Peng enlightened him with the fact that it was a recording anyway. The shrine was really extraordinary, vibrant colours which gave in an energy that the more sombre ones he had seen lacked. He also found himself drawn into actually following the rituals he had observed others perform, He took part in the hand cleansing and then in actual worship practise of approaching the shrine, making an offering, bowing, clapping hands twice and bowing again. He even paid for a fortune reading and the message he received felt auspicious, ‘Watching the moon in the sky overt Naniwa-e, I feel my heart become clearer and more excited”. Very Lucky! Feeling spiritually enriched he moved onto a baser enjoyment and went to see the 1954 100m high Tseutenkaku Observastory Tower. It was quite an ordeal to get to the top taking about 30 minutes from the purchase of his ticket. There was a lot of trying to keep people happy and in particular a lot of photographs and a lot of attention given to a charm called Billiken. The tower was amazing to look at and the views of Osaka from the top were quite spectacular. He made a detour on his way back to the hotel to get another vegan take out from Upgrade and found that he was developing another ritual, when he travelled two stops beyond where he needed to be and had to bide his time on another platform. Transport problems were really starting to get the better of him and A familiar sense of the low level anxiety afflicted him. Merrily recounting his days adventures he spent the rest of the evening dining with Peng and writing.
I think travel issues are inevitable if you don’t read Japanese Nick. You’ll need to be Zen about it. I don’t know how I feel about canned bird song at the train stations. I can’t decide if that would be beautiful or deeply naff. I would imagine that when you allowed yourself to become involed in the worship at the shrine that you must have found that it touched you in some way. Especially being so far from home Xx
I felt cheated by the birdsong when I learned that it was canned, but it actually worked in creating a tranquil feeling. Better than canned music
So this is my third attempt at posting on this one! Hearing you talk about the rituals and worship actually filled me with a sense of happiness. I’m sure you will have good fortune xxx
I am sorry the site resisted your post but the good news is, here it is. And i too felt that sense of happiness. XX