Beyond recorded memory Itsukushima (or Miyajima meaning Shrine Island as it’s more commonly called) was believed to be not only the residence but also the body of God.
If being alive on this earth doesn’t count as the same thing, I don’t get this close to God that often. Therefore, except for brief pauses to re-energize with a cup of tea, sample the “famous” local bean cakes and later, the grilled oysters for which the island is renowned; I decide to spend the time outdoors.
The seaside walkway to the torii is dry and dusty. The tide is in which makes for more picturesque shots.
After photographing the torii and side-stepping the deer, I meander slowly enjoying the balmy morning without working up a sweat. When I do poke my camera at something (not my preferred view of the world much less the body of God) I zero in on little peculiarities such as rain gutters and window screens which catch my attention.
Though variations of five-star pagodas, and local streets like Omotesando found here are commonplace all across the nation, I snap these, too. Of course, I am likely missing local nuances. One of my Japanese friends loves browsing shotengai outside her home town because she finds they are so different. As for me, after several weeks poking about various parts of the country, I’m finding them more and more the same.
I accept that I can’t do or absorb it all. I will have to miss a good number of the attractions. Learning of something I might have enjoyed more after the fact I might regret it, but fundamentally it doesn’t matter. I simply can’t climb to the island peak’s viewing platform or hike through the forest or visit an onsen. Not today. Strangely, my thoughts don’t (as they often do) race toward some distant dreamed-of day when I might return to squeeze all that in either.
I am content. (I’ll take it.) In this moment with the sun’s warmth filling me down to the bones and dust swirling at my feet, I feel enveloped—and cherished—in the breath of God.