I moved to Ise (伊勢) in late May. Knowing I would face some new burdens, such as the long commute, I decided to embrace some of the special qualities of Ise to remind myself to enjoy my new home. Committing to eat tsuitachigayu (朔日粥), early in the morning, on the first of each month, was the first step in that direction.
Fifteen months ago, I spent the night at a hotel in Ise so I could arrive as close to the 5AM start time as possible. I had heard that people made long lines and you had to arrive early to avoid disappointment when they sold out. Sitting in the old, traditional inn and supping simple food, fit me very well.
June, July and August were each very pleasant. On that last trip, I chatted a little with a new-found friend and stared out the window at the lush, green, misty mountains. Fine rings were spreading over the surface of the full, broad river as thin droplets drizzled slowly out of the sky. August usually means oppressive heat and humidity in Japan, so it was a special treat to be there.
My regular readers will recall, it was on the way home that morning that I was struck by a car and my lifestyle shifted from how I would have planned it. Since then, I had not gone to enjoy what was supposed to be my monthly ritual. At the beginning of my hiatus, it was easy to blame it on my physical injuries; but really, I think there was an emotional wall preventing me from traversing that peaceful little road toward the shrine. Today was to be different!
With my new (and very safe) car, I drove to Oharaimachi. For the past few days my neck and back were aggravated, giving me a ready excuse, but it is far more healing to go out and enjoy myself. The river was very low and the mountains were not visible in the cloudy weather, yet still I looked out on it with a certain guarded joy. Hesitancy was just from reflecting on where I am now and where I hoped to be, but the joy was intriguing.
One viewer might have seen the river as poorly and sad; however, I saw that it was unusually clear and fresh-looking, particularly in the shadow of the bridge. Even the dead, insubstantial winter leaves which occasionally dotted the surface seemed to have a light feeling as they bobbed by. Perhaps, in my heart, they were really the brilliant Autumn leaves I was meant to see earlier.
Discovery also graced this trip, as another hidden room in the inn and a couple mossy back alleys made themselves known to me. I am looking forward to filling in my missed months over the next year. March, April, May, September, October, December, and January: what new things will they contain?