Sunday, September 11, 2005


I climbed the monster today. The largest mountain in western Japan, it took three hours to get to the top, and that included many dangerous rock climbs with the aid of an iron chain…
Richard, another first year jet from New Zealand, and I woke up at 6, walked to the meeting place by 7, only to find out that the climb is canceled due to rain. Tired, we sat a bench for a while talking about meaningful things, and suddenly two guys approach us and ask if we still wanted to climb. I guess even though the climb was canceled a group was going to go anyway. We said absolutely.

As we were climbing the very last of the rocks to the top, I could hear a faint pulse of chanting, like a haunting love song murmuring through a mist. What I did not know is that one of the 88 temples on the famous Shikoku Pilgrimage was at the very top of this mountain. Climbing over the edge, I saw a handful of pilgrims, all in white, some with hats, one guy with a humongous conch shell, all on their knees chanting.

When I looked into the largest shrine I saw inside it a life-size standing deity holding a large circular mirror reflecting my entire body. Thought that was pretty cool and profound. There was a little café at the top as well, and I was handed an ice-cold beer the moment I entered. We ate lunch there, drank some coffee, and then began the clime down. Richard and I talked about books, our favorite short stories, eco-feminism, sexuality, the earth goddess, and happily told each other great stories about our homes, adventures, and schools. We became great friends. At the base we rested in a musty room with years of accumulated Japanese cultural memorabilia decorating the walls, my favorite was a Tanuki clock complete with swinging testicles. I am so tied now.

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