Thousands of Miles from Home


Hot Feet

Yesterday was a national holiday "Bunka No Hi," a type of cultural day. Shoko had tickets to see "Disney on Ice," which sounded really exciting, but I decided to go to a firewalking festival instead because it was a little more cultural. It was held on Yuga-san, a nearby mountain in Kurashiki. You may remember Yuga-san because it is one of the rare places in Japan where bouth a shrine and temple are located on the same spot.

When Andee and I arrived (Andee's host parents drove us), the fires were just starting to be lit. Various people dressed in traditional outfits were tending to the fire while a large taiko drum was played nearby. Over a loudspeaker a shrine attendent was chanting something that I later learned was sanskrit. The fires were wood with green branches laid overtop, which quickly started to smolder before burning. The smoke blew into the crowd but I stayed where I was to get a good look at the proceedings. As the stack of wood burned down, the chanting and drumming became more rapid. People started to throw pieces of wood with wishes written on them into the blaze. The heat was really amazing, and at times I had to cover my face when it got too hot.

After the fires burned down the ashes were raked into a narrow line, and beaten with bamboo sticks until they were cool enough for people to walk upon. I had bough a ticket to walk, so I took my shoes off and shuffled to the front of the waiting mass of people. The ashes were hot, but no so much that it was unbearable. I walked at sort of a marching pace with the others in line. After the ceremony a huge group of people gathered before the shrine. Shrine attendents threw candy to the crowd which rabidly jumped and ran for the treats. They were really hard rice balls, supposedly to give good luck. Andee and I grabbed a few.

Looking forward to this weekend, maybe I will get some downtime. Also, I finished some really good books so manybe I'll post some reviews.


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