In mid-September we took a break from "everything". Kimie got Friday off from work and drove us up to the northernmost city of Ibaraki Prefecture - Kitaibaraki City (literally "north Ibaraki" - doh!). Along the way we took a detour into the mountains to see a lovely thatched roof temple, Jorenji, built in 858.
Our destination was Izura - a cliffside resort area which was home to famed artist Okakura Tenshin (February 14, 1862 – September 2, 1913) who, aside from writing The Book of Tea and other English language volumes, ran an art school and was at one time head of the Asian arts section of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The area was also home to Ujo Noguchi (1882-1945) who wrote children's poems and song lyrics, many of which are still popular in Japan today.
We have visited Izura twice before, but only on day trips - once by car, once by train - and so had never spent the night before. We stayed at the cliffside resort of Izura Kanko Hotel, close to Tenshin's home and art school, though the latter is no longer there, and walking distance to the Tenshin Memorial Art Museum.
Our suite was on a corner and had views of the cliffs and Tenshin's hexagonal meditation room "Rokkokudo" on the point below his home, as well as straight out to sea to the East and the rising sun which we awoke to witness each morning. (Yawn- it was like O'dark:30 but very much worth the effort.)
The occasion was my 60th Birthday and I could think of nothing more appropriate than to spend it by the sea, with the sound of ocean waves soothing my angst of increasing age. It worked. I felt invigorated by the sights, sounds, and smells of the seaside, which combined to gently take the edge off of the "3 score" milestone, as did a soak in the limestone bath of the spa.
This area has most of Ibaraki Prefecture's fishing ports, so seafood was the order of the day, and the hotel did not disappoint. (I had lost 3 pounds in the previous ten days, and was afraid to look at a scale after the trip.)
I was happily surprised to see, among the myriad fishing boats, a number of sailing yachts in the waters off Izura, parading past the window at breakfast and returning in the afternoon. There is even a small wooden sailboat on display near Tenshin's house - one that he built himself for fishing.
On Saturday, we drove into the mountains again to the end of a road where there is an ancient Shinto Shrine. Set by a mountain stream amidst 600 and 700 year old cedars and pines, Hanazono Shrine is quite stunning for its size - like a jewel in the forest.
There is much more to tell, but I will leave that for a later post on Pacific Islander.
For now, I will close with this thought; it's a quote from The Book of Tea (1906) by Okakura Tenshin:
"Those who cannot feel the littleness of great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others."
He meant it on an international level, specifically how Western countries viewed Asia at the time, but it applies to personal life as well, and seems to me to be a concept worthy of our reflection.
Until next, sweet sailing.
Until next, sweet sailing.