Being Sick Sucks

I visited home for Christmas, just for a week. I didn’t buy the plane tickets until December, so my travel dates were decided by price and availability. The price was twice what it should be, but tickets for different dates went for as much as $4,000 for economy class. Obscene.

I returned to Japan on New Year’s Eve. New Year’s is Japan’s biggest holiday. Everyone gathers with their extended family, and all businesses except for trains, airports, and convenience stores shut down for the first three days of the year. On New Year’s Eve, people clean their houses, and on New Year’s Day, they visit shrines and/or temples to wish for health, happiness, and prosperity in the coming year.

I figured that I should get in on the festivities, but unfortunately I was sick and jetlagged, so that put a damper on things. Nevertheless, I did visit a shrine on the 1st, although it was after 4pm by the time I dragged myself there.

I visited Ikuta Shrine, which is just north of downtown Kobe. After a bit of research, I discovered that it’s one of the oldest shrines in Japan, having been founded in the early 3rd century. The buildings have all been replaced numerous times, but that’s still pretty cool.

Alas, I only have one picture.

Ikuta Shrine

This is the inside of the shrine’s main building, in an area fenced off from the general public, which even so late in the day formed a veritable sea of humanity. The Shinto priest, in formal costume, is leading the man (and his family, who are outside the picture) through a private ceremony. It must cost a fortune to reserve the sanctuary for a private service. To the left, in the back, are a pair of shrine maidens wearing their characteristic red and white outfits.

It’s too bad that this shot is so blurry, but then again, it gives a pretty accurate idea of how I was seeing the world at the time.

On Thursday I was back at work and feeling better, but the virus seems to have made a comeback, probably from the shock of getting up early on Thursday and Friday and not getting enough sleep. Last night I went to bed around 10 and slept for 11 hours, so hopefully that will help me get on the mend. But in the meantime, I’m still sick. Blah.

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3 Responses to “Being Sick Sucks”

  1. Doug Says:

    Hope you’re feeling better. I’m glad you posted the photograph, even if it is blurry. What sort of resume do you suppose one needs to make it as a shrine maiden? Can women advance in the Shinto religion?

  2. kevinjames Says:

    As I understand, while most priests are men, women can become priests, too. But shrine maiden is a different job. A long, *long* time ago, they acted as oracles or seers. Later, they became more like assistants, and were usually the priest’s daughter. At one time, they actually had to be maidens, but that’s no longer required; sometimes the wife of a priest acts as a shrine maiden, for example.

  3. The Drunken Vandal Says:

    Good post. Glad to see you recovering.

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