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In the Land of the Gods

Posted by
GJC (Kyoto, Japan) on 8 July 2011 in Lifestyle & Culture.

Taken at Gesshoji Temple (月照寺), in Matsue. This part of the temple has the graves of many of the Matsudaira lords who ruled Izumo province. Lafcadio Hearn, whom this week we have been following around through Matsue, was particularly impressed by Japanese Shinto in which "the dead are made divine."

The foreknowledge of this tender apotheosis, he continued, must temper with consolation the natural melancholy of age. Never in Japan are the dead so quickly fogotten as with us: by simple faith they are deemed still to dwell among their beloved; and their place within the home remains ever holy. And the aged patriarch about to pass away knows that loving lips will nightly murmur to the memory of him before the household shrine; that faithful hearts will beseech him in their pain and bless him in their joy; that gentle hands will place before his ihai [funerary tablet] pure offerings of fruits and flowers, and dainty repasts of the things which he was wont to like; and will pour out for him, into the little cup of ghosts and gods, the fragrant tea of guests or the amber rice-wine. Strange changes are coming upon the land; old customs are vanishing; old beliefs are weakening; the thoughts of today will not be the thoughts of another age, -- but all of this he knows happily nothing in his own quaint, simple, beautiful Izumo. He dreams that for him, as for his fathers, the little lamp will burn on through the generations; he sees, in softest fancy, the yet unborn -- the children of his children's children -- clapping their tiny hands in Shinto prayer, and making filial obeisance before the little dusty tablet that bears his unforgotten name.

NIKON D300 1/40 second F/6.3 ISO 200 54 mm (35mm equiv.)

1/40 second
ISO 200
54 mm (35mm equiv.)