Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Hidemi’s Rambling No.469

on May 27, 2013
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Besides small shrines in the neighborhood, there is a big tutelary shrine for the area where I grew up. My father pays homage there every month, and on New Year’s Day, which is the biggest holiday in Japan, all members of my family except for my grandmother used to go there every year. It also had a short stone pillar on which my grandfather’s full name carved because he was one of the biggest contributors. For him, it was the most important event of the year, as he believed my family was once a powerful landowner of the area and he was a parish representative. That pride would transform him into an excessively generous person from a miser. He would pay extra for a special ceremony. While others prayed outside the main building, the costly ceremony package led us inside and let us sit on the floor in front of the object of worship that the deity dwelt. A priest included my grandfather’s name and our address in his resonant prayer and swung a tuft of paper above our heads. Then, we would be led into a hall where low individual tables were set on the tatami floor. The chief priest of the shrine would wait for us there, and we sat in the pecking order. The closer to the chief priest you sat, the more important in the family you were. So the order was my grandfather, my father, me — the supposed successor, my mother and my sister. Sake offered to the shrine was served in a huge gold cup and we would sip by turns. My grandfather and the chief priest chatted and the priest would mention how much I had grown up and my family’s future was secure with me. Before leaving the shrine, my grandfather would buy a fortune slip for the new year’s luck. He shook a box of wooden sticks each of that had a number on. One stick came out from a hole of the box and the number decided the slip. One year, his slip turned out to be ‘Extremely Bad Luck’. He got furious and said to a salesperson, “It’s heartless to give me ‘Extremely Bad Luck’ on New Year’s Day!” While my father tried to calm him down, he insisted to directly tell the chief priest ‘Extremely Bad Luck’ wasn’t acceptable considering how much money he had spent for this shrine. My father persuaded him to leave the slip tied on a twig of a tree. Although he had a quiet year without mishap, he had complained about it to the chief priest every year since…

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***** 88th Planet Project *****

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