Semester at Sea Fall 2006 Voyage
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ominous, lush, green idol is dripping with moisture.
I am a little nervous as I approach and wash
my hands in the water collecting in a pool at its base.
I am told to fill a ladle and pour even more
water onto the figure itself which is tucked away in a corner shrine
dark ally in the middle of downtown
my companions' assurance
did I begin to learn the proper and distinct ways of praying. They explained that while Buddhism and Shinto
are intermixed in
I came to realize in my questioning of my new Japanese friends, that they were just as unclear on some of the aspects of these religious practices as I was. In one conversation with a student named Yeu, I mentioned that I was agnostic and he was very surprised, and even a little relieved. He had assumed I was Christian. I asked if he was Buddhist and he said no. It was my turn to be surprised. He, as well as some others in the group, had no religion either. I found it interesting that despite not following the faith they all knew how to pray and worship. My fear of being intrusive was completely alleviated when I learned that they themselves were not followers.
became more of a
superstition associated with improving one’s luck than a way of showing
devotion to a faith. At every temple and
shrine, whether it was Shinto or Buddhist, there was some way to make a
to test your luck. I paid 100 Yen to
shake a box and draw a stick. A fortune
matching the particular stick I drew was given to me by an old man
behind the counter. My fortune according
to Iako, another Japanese friend, was “not so good.”
There were countless other examples of ways
to improve upon or determine ones luck, such as walking from one stone
another with your eyes closed to see if your love was true, or writing
on a piece of paper and tying it to a series of strings.
Many good luck charms for passing a test or
curing an illness were also sold near these sacred places.
I would never have known why people were
walking with their eyes closed or shaking boxes filled with sticks if I
have my network to explain their significance.
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