We arrived in Shingu and decided to stop by Kamikura Shrine before going to the power plant. I think Ayako is nervous about going to the power station and meeting up with the SDF, so she keeps suggesting detours. She always has excuses, such as wanting to show her daughter nice places, and I do understand  that it serves as a needed distraction from from everything that is happening and has happened. We all have our own ways of dealing with it, and I suppose it’s easier than confronting the death of Taro head on. This time, she thought it would bring us luck to visit before making the final push to the power station, as it is one of Japan’s oldest sites of worship and the Shinto God Kumano-sansho-okami is said to reside in here.

We followed the 538 irregular shaped steps up the side of the mountain to a giant boulder.  Ayako explained that it has been an object of worship since the Yayoi Era, is mentioned in Japan’s oldest history book (Chronicles of Japan) and that there has been a festival held here for the past 1400 years. The festival involves 2000 men wearing white clothing tied with a straw rope running down the steep, uneven steps holding torches. Walking up to the stone, I found it hard to believe, and I can imagine it must be seriously dangerous.

Risa struggled up the steps. Alex and I held her hand for a lot of it, as we could see she was getting tired. After briefly praying at the shrine and looking out from the side of the mountain at the town of Shingu, Ayako reluctantly agreed that our next stop would be the power plant. Alex took a nice photo of Ayako and I before leaving, which catches the spring cherry blossoms so revered in Japan. It’s not a bad season to be out on the road. We cautiously followed the steps down again, and walked back to the car.

HelicopterAs we drove along the winding roads back into the mountains, we heard the thumping drone of a helicopter overhead. We hadn’t gone far, but when we stopped and got out of the car, we saw a military helicopter above us. I’m not sure if it heard our shouts and cheers, but either way it didn’t change course. It’s good to see that the SDF are still operational though, and I think it’s a pretty clear sign that things are going to be okay once we join up with them. It’s been a long day, and despite our differences, we’ve been through a lot. We almost feel like a family. It’s impossible to know what will happen next and what the future will old for us, if we even have a future, but I am really glad to have met up with this ragtag group. Thinking back to the days I spent on my own in my apartment in Hirogawa, I definitely feel blessed to have had the opportunity to be with these people.

We’re getting close to the station now. I’m nervous and excited about getting there. It seems our road tripping has come to an end,and my next update will be from the comfort and security of the Japanese Self Defence Force’s camp. Wish us luck!

 

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