Saturday, May 24, 2008

Island of wonder, Island of mystery.

Shodoshima! What a fine place. Home of olive trees, peaceful intentions, and welcoming country folk. I was there for 10 days, what a whirlwind.

I got to farm - barefoot in rice patty mud, weeding lettuce on hands and knees, chopping weeds with a spinning blade. But dang, the island. It is pretty accurate to imagine it as one of those paradise islands you see in movies - all jutting cliffs spilling over with luscious green. Birdsong. Morning mist. Fantastic. The people too, so welcoming and with such a contagious love of their island home. I was guided by smiling people to ancient temples that were carved into the freaking cliffs, to ridiculously scenic white sand beaches with island views, taken to band practice with a band. It was fantastic. Part of the joy of it too was that I never really had any idea what was happening. Due to my spotty Japanese, I got about 25% of what people were saying, and so just sort of went where people pointed, got in cars with strangers, and wandered at random. Not knowing what was happening had a wonderful effect - I had no idea what the future held, and so was freed from the burden of thinking about it. It let me just think about where I was and what I was doing. A feeling that was easy to maintain in the presence of such friendly people.

Oh, some temple facts:
1) there's a lot of them
2) they're beautifully crafted and mostly very very old, like, oh, one or two thousand years
3) they will often feed you a sample of the local specialty, like delicious noodles or mysterious jelly-like green things
4) many have some act to perform which guarantees hapiness, like drinking water in a cave, or squeezing through a little hole in some rock
5) I met a monk who I swear is as happy and present and friendly as the Dalai Llama. What a dude. Totally mind-bending.

The temples contribute to the general sense of ancientness. Like just up the road, there was a little shrine that, I mean no big deal, just PREDATED WRITTEN HISTORY. Nobody knew how old it was except that it was older than 300AD. Which is really old.

So there's the island. I filled my days eating with the farm family, working in the fields, exploring the island, and helping with dinner. It smelled good and I got a tan.


drmb said...
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Anonymous said...

You look a little thin in those pictures. Are you getting enough rice to eat?