By Professor Solomon
The unknown Japan. the normal Japan. the true Japan. In this erudite but exciting paintings, Professor Solomon explores a Japan of which few folks are conscious. For a travel of a special culture--a interesting examine its various methods and wonders--join him.
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Garbed in headdress and robe, he blesses infants and performs mar riages. And, of course, he presides over the annual matsuri, or competition. Many shrines are the focus of an elaborate festival. Held in honor of the kami, those fairs pass again centuries. Their origins are diverse. Some began as a plea to the kami for protection—against plague, enemy, earthquake. Or as propitiation for an considerable harvest. Or as thank you for a boon bestowed on the community. Others commemorate a few historic incident—a army victory, say.
The kamidana (“god shelf ”) is a small shrine found in tradi tional families. It includes talismans (one for Amaterasu, another for the local kami); memorial tablets for one’s ancestors; and offerings such as sake, rice, or cakes. Domestic prayers are recited at the kamidana. 17 ducts no service, delivers no sermon, offers no sage advice. He is solely a ritualist—a mediator between kami and wor shiper. His duties include the recital of prayers, the perfor mance of rites, and the overseeing of offerings.
And buy a Fujistick (sold at stands). It will help you to negotiate the slope. And at each station it will be branded, to provide a memento of your progress. Adventuresome? Climb at evening. along with fending off the heat, you’ll reach the summit in time for sunrise. A Fuji sun upward push is staggering. You’ll see why the mountain has been called the home of the gods. Spread below are clouds, farm land, and towns. Mountains, coastline, and sea. A panorama that comes alive as Amaterasu rises from the sea.
Foxes have no monopoly, it would seem, on mischief and deceit! A man in wretched attire used to come to his shop every evening to buy a cho of tofu, which he devoured on the spot with the haste of one long famished. Every evening for weeks he came, and never spoke; but the landlord saw one night the end of a hairy white tail sticking out from beneath the stranger’s rags. The sight aroused strange sur mises and weird hopes. From that night he began to treat the mysterious customer with obsequious kindness.
For such (in a few useless words) is the aim of Zen. Now a quest for enlightenment is not unique to Zen. All denominations of Buddhism seek to understand the Uni verse, and to enter into a harmonious relationship with it. To that end they have employed both intellectual and cer emonial means. within the temples and monasteries of the Bud dhist world, logical discourse has flourished. Elaborate rit uals have evolved. Endless volumes of theology have been written, circulated, and diligently perused. But Zen alone has disdained such activity—in favor of an intuitive strategy.