The Sights

Last night the wind picked up, it's still not anything really catastrophic. I quite like the wind actually, it would be fun to photograph somebody with a really long hair now! Might not be so fun for them. It was quite noisy during the night but it's also fine with me, the air is pretty fresh now and for once, it's not too hot! I don't have to take two showers every day! Even the neighbor's doggy was really happy this morning and came to say hello to me! I finally got to pet the DOGE!

Yesterday we also had a guided sightseeing trip around Itoshima. I was pretty cranky about the weather, a sightseeing trip in pouring rain doesn't sound so appealing, plus I'm going to be here for only 9 days now, so I'd rather not waste any time. But when we drove outside the city and moved to small mountain roads, the rain tapered off and we got a really lovely mist. I love the mist here! It pours and flows over the mountains, outlining them with random little wisps of smoke, it's so beautiful. When you think about it, maybe a weather like this is much more interesting than regular sunshine for a sightseeing trip.

At first we went to see a nice waterfall. It was nice. That's it. At this point it was still raining quite a bit and I had a stomach ache because I'd been eating a lot of bread the past few days. My housemate Charlotte always toasts bread in the morning and the scent makes me insane, so I bought some bread for myself too. Wheat isn't good for me, so now I suffer for a few days. I miss yoghurt and my gluten-free cereal so much!

After that, we drove up further, to a lovely shrine. It was hidden in the mountains and looked quite small at first, but as we entered the first house, we found many sprawling stairways and beautiful rooms spreading outside a lovely garden. The temple is actually very old and houses a 1000-year old statue of Buddha. We climbed up a lot of wooden stairs - not easy to do in slippers - to see the statue and a Buddhist monk gave us a small ceremony near the statue. We weren't allowed to take photos near the statue but otherwise the temple was a very love space to photograph, especially with the mist and fall leaves falling all around us.

The Japanese are rather religious, I think, at least considered next to us in Finland, where most of us are part of the church in name only. We go to church for weddings and funerals but most of us don't really believe in anything or care about spiritual things. Here I see people bowing and praying and paying their respects, while back home people might actually consider it humiliating to be seen being religious or praying. I suppose we might consider it weakness or stupidity, because modern people don't believe in any higher powers. In here, everybody's pretty natural about it. If you step into a shrine, you pay your respects to the deity that inhabits the shrine. You take of your shoes, you bow your head, you say hello, may I come in? I find it lovely, in a way, though observing somebody else's religion is often complicated at best and can be racist at worst, I guess.

I'm not sure what I believe in. I always call myself agnostic. As in, I think there's somebody home, I just don't know who or what and I'm waiting to find out. I was raised kind of half-Christian, so I definitely have Christian leanings and beliefs but at the same time, I feel the Christian Church with a capital C, as in the establishment, has moved very far away from being able to give people a personal experience. I wish to respect other people's religious traditions as much as I can, as long as they don't hurt other people, but in the end I guess I feel religion and spirituality to me is a very personal matter that's still unresolved. In here, where people have asked me to bow my head and pay my respects if I walk through a shrine, I do it because I find it interesting and also because who am I to question or disrupt other people's belief or traditions. I don't want to come off as condescending or as that westerner who gets their rocks off when observing other cultures as The Other, with a capital O. I might come off as something like that, though, whether I want it or not.

Anyway, we walked around the temple and had a nice look. There were also these funny little men, I think maybe a 500 of them and it's said that if you look long enough, you will always find the one who looks like you. I didn't yet find the one who looks like me. I took a lot of photos and I will take a closer look.

There was also a really cute tiny cow!

Then we went to see rice fields and flowers and saw really adorable tiny frogs!

After that, we went to really, really lovely beach, it's the west point of Itoshima called Futamigaura Beach, I think. I don't have any good pictures from the beach, because it's really impossible to describe. It's a beautiful beach! The waves were incredible, the view is incredible, there were people surfing and the wind was warm and I didn't have my bathing suit! Beaches are really difficult to describe if you're not there. In photos they all look the same. But visiting them is the best. I have to make it to this beach to swim before I leave Japan. I have to.

A part of the tour was lunch in a seafood restaurant. We had the option to eat either cuttlefish sashimi or tempura. I was aware that the cuttlefish sashimi was going to be a bit extreme, but I wanted to try it out anyway. You can watch a video of this on YouTube. I won't link to it, because in all honesty, I don't want to search for the videos about it. I watched the first few seconds of a man preparing this and I had to turn away. It's... extreme. I thought I could deal with it, but it was really disconcerting. I can't look at that face and eat it! In the end I ate some of it, and the rest was made into tempura and I was really hungry, but I'm still reeling from the experience. I love animals and I love eating and to be honest, yes, I love eating meat and seafood but I can't see the face of something I'm eating. It might make me a hypocrite, yes. I get it. Maybe in the future I will have to go vegan. This was just intense.

We also had a quick look at a sake brewery with free samples. It was fun, even if I'm not a big drinker. Chocolate sake was interesting, I can now recommend it! I never used to like sake before. The day was pretty long and I just lazed around the evening. I really have to get to work with building my exhibition.


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