Friday, February 8, 2013

Kyoto: Fushimi Inari Taisha

Another episode from the adventures of Justin, Nana, Dan, and Kath . . .

Our first stop on arrival in Kyoto - after a flight from Nagasaki and a train from Kansai - was Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社, "the great shrine of Inari in Fushimi"). This is the head shrine of Inari Okami (稲荷大神, "Inari the great spirit"), one of the most important of the kami, the god-ish beings central to Shinto.

Inari is traditionally honored as the spirit of worldly success in all its forms: agriculture, fertility, business, and such. Like most kami, Inari takes many forms (of either gender, though more often female). But she's most commonly associated with her messenger, the fox. Hence her shrines can usually be identified by pairs of flanking fox statues and clusters of bright orange torii gates erected by local businesses hoping to gain her favor.

If you can't afford a big one, you can buy a little one instead.

At Fushimi Inari Taisha, though, this has gotten totally out of hand: the shrine occupies an entire hillside on the south-eastern edge of Kyoto, criss-crossed by dozens of paths under thousands upon thousands of torii.

The four of us spent about an hour wandering the wooded precincts and still barely scratched the surface of the place. It's essentially a day hike, with little clusters of noodle shops and tea shops scattered along the way, looking like they'd just dropped out of the 1790s.

Awesome little playground for the camera!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Fukuoka, mon.

I supervise, among other tests, the SAT here, and I don't even bother to check in the mail for my rosters. I'm in my second year as college counselor, and they've maybe come before the test twice? The joys and perils of test distance, I suppose.

I also get copies of the scores of students at my school. I hadn't gotten any for a while, and I was wondering what had happened. Turned out they took a little detour:

I am impressed by two things. First, that things are missent to Jamaica so frequently that there is a stamp for it. Second, that the best way to get it back to me once it had gone to Jamaica in the first place somehow involved Germany (check the stamp). This is a well-traveled set of misplaced scores.

I do actually know how this happened. Someone must have had to sort the letter electronically, and whenever you use the dropdown menu to enter a country name, you type "J" to get to the right section. Japan, however, is not the first J country on an alphabetical list. Jamaica is. (Reminds me of our time in Korea where you never knew how to find that country on a dropdown menu at all - depending on the makers of the list, it could be under K, for "Korea, South,"; under S for South Korea, or under R for Republic of Korea). So if you're rapidly tabbing through the list, you could easily end up on Jamaica by mistake.

The capper:

Me, showing envelope to student: "Isn't that hilarious? The letter went to Jamaica instead of Japan?"
Student: "Haha! Jamaica! That's in Africa, right?"

I think he has a future with the post office.