Kansha al Kansha
大感謝祭 From San-in, with thanks (part 2)
Happy New Year to everyone! We are thankful for the brand new year ahead of us, and with it comes the challenge to make our lives matter and mark 2011 as a year we can be proud of.
Pride is a virtue when it reflects appreciation for others. Continuing the travelogue about my first visit to the San-in region, any visitor in Sakaiminato would immediately recognize that Sakaiminato people are proud for their famous kababayan, Mizuki Shigeru by making the whole town virtually Yokai themed. Mizuki’s creations are drawn al fresco on trains and even the taxis have eyeball lights on their roofs. From cakes, teishoku to stationery, accessories, to a Kitaro 交番or police box and a shrine with a granite eyeball icon, the transformation was remarkable. The townsfolk who were initially against the Mizuki Road project initiated by the city government in the late 80s to revitalize the declining town, were now completely enamored by Kitaro’s creator. As a first-time visitor to Sakaiminato, I realized that Mizuki’s life spoke of the power of passion that enabled rising from intense poverty to fame, thanks to his warm family and firm supporters. After spending around three hours on Mizuki Road and visiting the Sakaiminato ichiba, we headed towards nearby Matsue across the border in Shimane to visit the Matsue castle. It seemed like there were many like us who had the same plans that weekend as I had an impre-ssion that there were nume-rous motorists that jammed the roads to our destinations. The Matsue castle is one of the 12 castles remaining in Japan, and it is the only one remaining in the San-in region. The castle houses valuable warfare memorabilia of the grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the shogun Naomasa Matsudaira who started the long reign in the castle of the powerful Matsudaira clan that spanned 234 years. It is definitely worth a visit for its magnificently well-kept structure and climbing up the steep stairs to the topmost floor offers a 360-degree view of the Matsue as well as an unrivaled view of Lake Shinji. Plus foreigners get a 200 yen discount off (regular 500 yen) admission fees.
After visiting Matsue castle, our limbs were screaming for some onsen. So we drove back to Tottori and headed for the hotel in the Kaike Hot Spa district in Yonago. Little did my in-laws and I know that my husband still had one little surprise for us to cap the day’s itine-rary: as we were nearing the Shimane-Tottori border, our eyes feasted on the Lake Shinji Sunset that has made Matsue, Japan’s water capital famous. Taking a photo inside a moving vehicle was never my forte but I lucked out at Shinji-ko. As we looked at the beautiful sunset, my in-laws and I felt most thankful for this chance to visit San-in and to my husband for planning the trip. We felt guilty remorse for dozing off during the long drive from Kyoto as our patient driver battled sleep by chewing gum and listening to the radio. These feelings and the photo remind me of a poem by W.S. Merwin who incidentally was chosen as this year’s Poet Laureate by the US Library of Congress. Allow me to end with the following verses taken from the aptly-titled “Thanks” by W.S. Merwin:
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow for the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water looking out
in different directions.
….. with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us like the earth
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is
From “Thanks”, The Rain in the Trees copyright© 1998 by W.S. Merwin.