Returning to the new familiar

Having arrived in Japan on 11 January and meeting up with the ASES 277 group and Asian Con crews this evening, I thought I would take the day to return to some places I traversed 19 months ago when Ann Marie, Kathy, Mike Thai, and Gabriel Trejos-Duran spent two weeks in-country.  On today’s docket – sunshine, Meiji Jingu, and the fashion district around Harajuku. Fascinating thoughts and contrasts kept rushing into my head during my walking excursion today; I will share a select few.

When I last spent time at Meiji Jingu, it was mid-June, light rain, and a beautiful swath of blooming irises graced the grounds.  Today was bright sunshine, a stiff cool breeze, and a mix of blue sky with browns and greens coupled to the celebrations associated with the New Year, weddings, and an ice sculpture exhibit. As I was meditating in the gyoen (inner garden), designed and built for Empress Shoken by Emperor Meiji I felt a profound sense of connectedness and spirit in this place.  I listened to the fluttering of birds on wing, the pace of fellow travelers making music with footsteps in the small stones, the wind moving branches and leaves, and to the warmth of the sun shining into my spirit.  Opening my eyes, I delighted in many people looking to engage other organisms by capturing imagery (thanks birders!) or simply out walking without being engaged on one’s mobile device.

How often do we really stop to listen to our surroundings?  When did you last delight in temporary art and the dance of sunshine and shadow across the canvas of frozen water – watching a new shape unfold as the initial form changes due to melting (and falling bits)?  How often do you celebrate life’s events in communion with one another and with the rest of nature?  The shared sense of calm, spirit, and connections form the sounds and ideas that still linger in my head hours after leaving Meiji Jingu.  I hope you enjoy these images and look forward to your own sense of discovery and connectedness in spirit whether you are near or far from where you call home.


Bird of Prey ice sculpture

Shinto Shrine of Meiji Jingu

Stream moving through the gardens at Meiji Jingu.

Sun and shadow play in this image of a samarai.

Ice castle in the ice sculpture exhibit

Lanterns for the new year.

Path in outer gardens of Meiji Jingu

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