Saturday, February 4, 2012

Gaining Passage

In my job, I teach at four different classrooms around Toyama Prefecture. Only one of the classrooms is actually in Toyama City where I reside, which leaves three in the Niikawa region of eastern Toyama; my old stomping ground. Though I think most would loathe traveling such distances three weeks out of the month, I revel in the long train rides through the country visiting the old places that contain various shards of my heart. My farthest school is Nyuzen, about a 45 minute train ride from Toyama City. It is the smallest town I teach in, and definitely has a special ambience to it. To me, it's a very homely place. It just bleeds cozy, this small concentrated town nestled next to the mountains. It is an extremely humble place with hidden jewels, including two of the best coffee shops in all of Toyama Prefecture in my opinion.

On my fifteen minute walk from the station to the classroom, I pass this shrine, which is also one of the most impressive I've seen in Toyama. It's large, but not overwhelming, and extremely old (or at least appears so.) Certainly something that catches your attention while you walk through the town, though it is not a site of much attention it seems. The picture above doesn't do much service to this description, because it is covered in tarps to protect against snow. To provide entry to the shrine in winter months, a triangle structure is constructed before the entrance. So simple as two sides leaned against each other to form a triangle, but it leaves me in awe. I'd hate to give long descriptions of the "magical and elusive mysterious beauty" of Japan, which is far too often indulged in by travel writers in my opinion. However this is one of those moments I could do so. A funnier image in my mind though is me gawking at this sight while a Japanese looks at me with utter confusion: What is so damn interesting about these two pieces of wood put together?

Anyway, the point of this story is gaining entry to temples we create walls around.

Everyday I make a point to pass through these temple grounds, though I have never breached its steps. Now, in these winter months, the tarps cover it, and this triangular wooden entrance stand before it.

"Whoa, that's so cool! I wonder what it would be like to go in. I shouldn't though. It'd be weird and I have to get to work anyway."


This shrine of unimaginable mystery is just perplexing me beyond reason when I could just take literally 10 seconds to just walk through the gate. It's amazing the quandary that filled me head concerning this simple action.

"Fine! I shall do it!"

So often these types of adventures disappoint. Such grandiose images of places and quests shrouded in mystery are just too much for the real thing. But this wasn't the case here. It really was so cool! Outside was this bland, one color tarp square covering, set in a swirling arena of whizzing snow. But inside, was this tranquil pool of dry brown complexity. The designs on the temple were so cleanly carved in the aged wood. The tarp set-up itself was a sight of precise construction. Truly a different world: one greater than my imagination. I'm so glad I took the steps to get inside. I'll still get to work with more time than I need, and there was no bystander to deem my entrance strange. What was the big deal?

I dare you readers to enter the temples that inspire you!

Let not fear of death, work, or awkwardness keep you from realizing your life.


  1. Really good post but I think the right spelling should be "bollocks" :)

  2. Your first photo on this post, the roof and the tree with snow, etc., what inspired you to take that particular shot?

  3. Bernard: crap, an American getting a little too out of his range I guess ... thanks for the correction! If I use it again I'll be sure to get it right.

    Charles: I'm always amazed at the old trees that are by shrines, and by the shrines' great construction ... but can never seem to get them together without a bland straight on shot. So ... this is what happened. I like these shots because it shows human form next to nature's. Thanks for the comment.

  4. Ah, a nature-human connection, cool and thanks ZC man's heart is like heaven and earth; blood circulates like sun and moon .... all things are good and all things are connected .... butterfly flaps its wings and the wind blows westerly across the opposite of the globe in response....