Day 8 – Sobering Thoughts

We had such a great plan for today: wake up at 6.30h, start a two hour trainride to Mount Gozaishô, do some 700m ascent to what must be the greatest peak around Ise, take the last ropeway back (the longest ropeway in Japan). Well, along came Karaoke yesterday! After a great kaiten sushi we had our first 1 hour trek, all the way across suburbs, fields, riversides and bridges, until we arrived at the Karaoke place in that industrial suburb I told you before. It was actually a beautiful hike there, not too cold, fantastic starlight, beercans in the backpacks. Then… Karaoke. Can you believe that a private box for up to 10 (!) hours with unlimited alcohol nomihôdai (all-you-can-drink) is still only 3.200yen (about 26€) per person?! It was great, it was epic, no one wanted to stop – especially since the way back to the dormitory was even longer… from what I can remember, we decided to take a taxi after we made it halfway across the municipality, with as many beer refill stops in Konbinis along the way. I will put a cloak of silence about all our misadventures in between (mainly because my stored “information” is not reliable anyway). When we arrived back at the dormitory, more in the direction of morning than night, the idea to start to a 3-6 hours hike soon after seemed ridiculous.

So, the plan was a good one but the time not ready. Instead we went for a relaxing day at the oceanside at noon. The train there only took about 20 minutes, and the new plan seemed much more reasonable with respect to an epic hangover on my part. All the bento-boxes with food that we arranged for our mountaineering worked just as well in Futamiura. It is the small village right next to the Meotoiwa-Rocks I told you in my very first post: they are enshrined and thus considered kami themselves. And if the sun and the weather is just right you can supposedly see Mount Fuji all the way from Kanto, ~300 km away. That was not the case today, and apparently the ocean is not even the ocean but more properly a “bay”, but it was really nice anyway. We again had the feeling to be the first foreigners that ever set food here, which held also true for the neighbouring town of Toba. The whole coast area here is a maze of little islands and fishing villages, covered with old buildings, canals, and bridges. There is a lot of old and new craftmanship around: Mikimoto shinju island is the first place in the world where they succeeded in cultivating pearls, apparently. There are also elderly women working as professional divers, called Ama. Up to this day they go hunting for pearls and seafood treasures in the ocean. Old people are a topic here anyways. Rural exodus is an even bigger problem for Japan than for most other countries, especially in small villages around places like Ise that are slowly fading away, it seems. As sad as this can make you (especially on a hangover-day), on the other hand I am impressed by the spirit of so many eldely citizens we encountered. Take the day before, for instance, when we had our kengaku to Saikô: Most of the staff working at the historical sites are volunteers of about 65 years or older. They have been living their whole lives in these places, and now they do community work, showing visitors around, enriching facts with personal anecdotes of how the same places looked during their childhood. Above all, they seemed so active and integrated into the town life. Certainly out of necessity, but it still makes me sad to reflect on how we – in Germany, say – let practically all experiences of elderly people go to waste. Maybe not on a personal, but certainly on a societal level. Well, as I said… hangover day.

The problem with elderly people in a foreign country is, of course, it is close to impossible to understand their dialect. In Futamiura, we were talking to an old woman who offered us miso soup that she just made. Here is what I got from the conversation: She: “blablabla… eat? blabla bla” Me: “Thank you very much, very kind, very tasty!” she: “blablabla… But I can speak… no English … blabla.” Me: “No problem, English and Japanese is very different from each other, hard to learn!” Here is what Bert told me that happened: She thought I did actually speak English, not Japanese, and… ah, I don’t really remember, but there were many more misunderstandings involved, and it somehow seemed funnier before, or maybe it was because of my general state of mind. I actually wanted to get the whole story today to that point, but now it didn’t really work, so that is that.

Well, at least I have a service announcement: I will now properly label my pictures in the daily galleries. So the times when they were just called “1338r563432905453.jpg” are over. There were complaints. Rejoice. Click pictures for titles.

P.S. 2: Phil & Ulli, I have not overlooked your questions in the comments, they will be adressed properly, soon. Service, everywhere! Japanese influence.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Day 7 – Kengaku

Fresh and genki again today! A beautiful sunny day, and because it is additionally a Saturday, we engaged in kengaku. This means literally “learning by looking”, so: field trips! At first we visited a local factory where kamaboko is produced, the well-known fish-paste you can make anything out of! Sounds easy, but it isn’t, we had some time to figure that out for ouselves. The main event of the day, however, was a trip to the historical sites of Saiku, some 15km north of Ise. There we need some backstory again: When the shrines were institutionalized, a special person from the imperial family was chosen to attend the rituals, selected from the unmarried princesses and appointed by fortune-telling. This person was then called the Saiô. She then prepared for 3 years for a ritual journey to Ise, called “gunkô”, which was a huge event in itself. Anyway, when she arrived near Ise, she would not actually go to the Grand Shrines. That was reserved for only three special matsuri-occasions throughout the year. Instead, she resided at a palace outside, the Saiku. Today, there is not much there that you can see anymore, for the tradition was abandoned in the 14th century, after a line of 66 Saiô-priestesses which lasted 660 years. Some traditions, it seems, are not forever. However, it was very interesting to see actual archaeoligical stires where they are working right now, figuring out more details about the ancient palaces sites. Obviously, it was not just the Saiô residing there, but a household of more than 500 servants. The new museum was one of the nicest I have ever seen, atmosphere-wise, but also in terms of all the installations, models, and an really well-made “historical reenactement”-film that brought the whole story to life.
Oh, and incidently there was a little town festival there today as well where I could meet the local mascot, Ise-mairin-kun, a kind of pilgrim. Nice day! Now out into town for Kaiten-sushi and Karaoke, and tomorrow we are planning for a hike in the mountains.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 6 – Basic Needs

After Naikû yesterday we went to Gekû today: The Outer Shrine. In principle, this is the less important one of the two and it was probably established some centuries later only (so we are talking about the 4th or 5th century). Myth puts it like this: After Amaterasu-Ômikami, aka the Sun Goddess herself, took residence in Ise, she went incredibly hungry. So she commanded that another god, Toyo’uke-no-Ômikami, was summoned from the north of Kyoto prefecture to join her. It is Toyo’uke-no-Ômikami’s job ever since to provide her with sacred food. In order for him to do that, another forest was turned into a huge shrine area, which is now Gekû. Not only is its whole purpose to provide food for the deity, Toyo’uke-no-Ômikami also needs meals for himself. High-ranking priests offer him delicious goods two times a day. Yes, unfortunately only two times a day, because thats apparently the number of meals people had regularly when the tradition was established. So tradition can also hold you back, it is proven! The payoff for all of this is, amongst other things of course, a good harvest. So, basically, everything is about the basic need of food with these gods which I can totally rely to. We had such a great All-you-can-eat Shabu-Shabu-course in a wonderful Izakaya yesterday… also some beer (the kami are connoisseurs of sake as well, so no problem). So, yeah, it became late, and I was incredibly tired the whole day. It was really hard. So that’s why this post will be short, sorry.

But just to get the most important point communicated: The whole shikinen-sengû-deal (the rebuilding every 20 years) is exactly the same for the Gekû, and we had the honor to meet with one of the construction workers who introduced us in length to every detail of the process. It was fascinating, but also hard to listen, because I was so incredibly tired. A 10-people-team consisting of carpenters from all around the country dedicate their life to the job, because the job is never done. The main pillar of the inner hall must be from a cypress tree so big that there is a 200 years plan in advance (planting, growing, cutting) . In general, I liked the Gekû even better, I think, because you get to come much closer to the interiors, and the forest around it has even more beautiful areas to explore, I felt. And wandering around the forest helped while I was feeling so sleepy, while the sleepiness helped to make it seem much more mystical. The gods had it all figured out for me, it seemed. If you want more beautiful pictures, please use this googlesearch-link. Night night.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Day 5 – Touching Time, differently

Today, after days of preparation, we have finally been to the Naiku (kôtai jingû), the Inner Shrine. Except, of course, that you can not actually “go there” or see it, since this is only allowed to the Tennô and the highest of Highpriests. From one point, though, deep in the woods, you can make out some roofs behind a high wooden wall. All of this is highly peculiar by itself, the more you think about it. Its not just us forgeigners, after all, but all these people here who are dedicating their life to Ise, whether it is those priests in training or – especially – all those scholars at the university. No one of them will ever see what this is all about, or whether the legendary item, the Yata no Kagami, really exists. So everything seems to be about the imagination (which is kind of strange after my whole attack on semiotics and referentiality af few days ago. Everything here is pointing towards some center that might as well be empty, as Roland Barthes would have put it, but it decisively isn’t, at least not in the minds of all the people here).

Anyway, the day was really beautiful, since the Naiku is much more than whatever is behind those walls. Actually, it consists of a huge area in the mountainwoods, where you can wander around freely. Not even many visitors here, at least compared with Kyoto, and I really think we were the only foreigners. There are many wooden bridges over the river Isuzu, more little shrines with incredibly stories than you can count, and those gigantic trees which are well over a thousand years old. The air tastes wonderful. But what impressed me most was the little fact that every piece of architecture, every bridge, every tôri, every wall, was soft as a velvet towel. Because everything is brand new, like right out from Ikea.

If you remember: thanks to the shikinen-rengû-tradition, which was institutionalized in the 7th century, every piece of wood in the Naiku gets torn down and completely rebuild every 20 years. Today, in its 62th version, we saw, smelled and touched architecture that is from 2013. Except that it is over 1400 years old. Just not in this particular material form. I can not stress enough what an incredible notion of “tradition”, “age”, and “time” that was. If you stand in front of an old cathedral in Europe and touch it, knowing the same stone was in the very same place during the middle ages, that is definitely impressive. But then again, they just build something, finish it, and are done with it. The rest is preservation: Keep the fire, wars, and bombs away! Here, if any of the huge wooden tôri or the wonderful bridges keep standing for longer than 20 years, something went wrong. The tradition would have died. The legacy would have been broken. And this is such a different approach. It sheds a new light on all the “performativity”-questions that Phil and myself were discussing a few days ago (thanks, Phil!). Because you have to think about the shikinen-sengû from a practical perspective, in order to see the theoretical consequences.

Craftmanship. You need to keep the skills alive. The knowledge. The trade. The institutions. The old teachers that teach the young teachers to teach new teachers. You need the places were they plant the trees, where they cut the trees, where they work the trees, and you have to train people to arrange for that again, and again, and again. And after one shikinen-sengû is finished, the preperations for the next one must start. It seems to me this is somewhat more challenging than to prevent attackers from destroying the stuff that you built. Because its not about the buildings. Its about the building. So, we are back at actually doing stuff. To me, touching this wood (that really feels like fresh out from Ikea) was like touching the essence of time. Or some essence of time. If a building is really old, it is easy to project backwards, to imagine all those lives before you that stood at the very same spot. But if you touch something that continues to be brand new, freshly cut, freshly worked, only to be torn down, soon to be rebuild again – and for over a thousand years now – the temporal perspective shifts and you project out into the future: this might feel the same in a thousand years from now. Like fresh out from an Ikea. Or whatever spaceship materials they will compare it with then.


Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Day 4 – Off the Grid

Now for the main purpose that you would expect from some kind of travel blog. What kind of place is Ise? I’ll try answering that with what you could call “anecdotic evidence”. Today, me and some of the people wanted to escape the daily 6 hour routines of history lessons, history lessons, and more history lessons (and some really cool but utterly incomprehensible cultural theory; I have the handouts, though. Maybe I’ll try figuring this stuff out for a post sometime. The three legendary items played a part. It was really cool. But utterly incomprehensible). Anyway, we wanted to actually see Ise now, for a change. The funny thing is, we arrived by bus, as you might remember, and the university and the dormitory is somewhere between the Inner and the Outer Shrine, meaning in between the former towns of Uji und Yamada. I mean to say, we haven’t seen anything of Ise so far.

Okay. Normally, around a Japanese train station, there are all those buildings filled with usual suspects: Izakayas (bars), some well-known chains (like Warawara), restaurants, yakitori grills, a 100yen-shop, maybe Pachinko, a lot of Convenience Stores, and one or two larger Department Stores. Oh, and one Karaoke, at least. This is, like, the standard layout for any old central train station. When we went to the Ise main station, there was almost nothing of the sort. Not even an Izakaya. There was literally nothing. One or two closed bars. I am exaggerating a little, but only a little. What do students do here? Right, they practice shinto rituals…!

So, to find an area where there is a Book Off, a Don Quixotte (Donki), and a 100yen-Shop, we had to do the following: Take a bus from the main station, for about 20 minutes, all the way to the outskirts of the town, then walk from there for another 15 minutes, over a large bridge, through some suburbs, until we reached something like an industrial area with a lot of gasoline stations. There is a public transport bus going there directly, but it only runs 6 times a day. In Germany, this would be an area where you would find only Baumärkte, used car sellouts, and swinger clubs. That is how far off the grid Ise is.

It is, actually, not true that this was our first attempt, yesterday already we went out a little, around the main station, and we found a lot of run-down places, closed shops, long, empty streets and narrow empty streets. Wikitravel and the town leaflets are advertising a quarter which is historically important, Kawasaki Kaiwai: “The old merchants quarters of town. Many old buildings remain. Good for a stroll”. Yeah. It is quite a stroll through a time travel machine. Everything looks like a 100 years old, there are canals and old, unprotected train tracks crisscrossing, layers on top of layers of half-forgotten industrial history. Luckily, we had nothing but history lessons for days. The thing is: I really find it quite beautiful, the whole package. I have been in small towns in Japan, but usually they were either huge tourist attractions, or really small towns, like villages. But Ise is a city that somehow cruised through the centuries, still looking a little bit like Meiji period every second corner or so. And still, it has all these layers of history, because it indeed is one of the most important places of Japan, but no one would look for that outside of the well-known tourist areas of the two shrines, where the shops are. We will start going there tomorrow.

I can understand, kind of, how one could feel disappointed, if this was your first time in Japan, or even your second. For some of the students, that is the case. We are just so far off the grid. But I serously have no desire to escape to Shinjuku right now. I really love this whole nostalgia thing, where it is so easy to project an imaginary Murakami Haruki-soundtrack onto everything. We found, by accident, an old sento bathhouse at the side of a river in one of the shabbiest buildings I have ever seen in Japan. The paint on the hyôshiki giving its name is peeling off, the kanji are hard to read. I am looking forward going there, in the next few days. I love to find half forgotten little shrines in every backyards, which is the same in Kyoto of course, but here, the ground is covered with foliage, the wood of the ancient tôri is flaking, the inscriptions are impossible to make out, probably no one knows which ancient deity is (or was) worshipped here. You you can secretly feel excited whether it will ever, ever let you get back in the 21st century. Maybe I am terrified, because I, secretly, don’t want to go back on the grid.

P.S.: Since I am highly selective and only an unreliable narrator anyways, here are some of the English blogs of the other participants you might want to check out. Not only, but also, for way better pictures than the crappy ones of mine:
Ise no Beruro (Bert from Belgium)
Philo in Ise (Philo from Holland)

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Day 3 – This thing about Shinto

So, let’s get started about this whole shinto thing. Everything here is about shinto. The university exists, more or less, just to produce shinto priests (kind of like a huge catholic seminar). The classes today and yesterday were mostly about shinto history, shinto matsuri (festivals), shinto heritage, shinto rituals. We learned how to do the sanpei correctly, the thing were you clap your hands two times in front of a shrine. This is all very cool and fascinating. To my even bigger excitement, today’s class even ended up in a meta-discussion about the discussions, which is, I’d say, my favorite kind of discussions. In this instant, it was all about what shinto actually “is“, especially with respect to our particular positions as, I dunno, researchers? Educated cultural tourists? I was surprised, I have to say (and I continue to be so), how little the teachers from various subjects (history, language, sociology) reflect or rather communicate their own stance toward shinto.

Let me be clearer: I have no idea what I was expecting. And I am not even sure I am approaching this correctly. This is what makes these questions really interesting questions. Lets try this with some applied dialectics.

On the one hand, I would be expecting some kind of, I don’t know, maybe not “critical distance”, but rather a reflection of whether a scholar is approaching a topic with historical interest, or from a cultural perspective, or as a kind of believer? Does this sound about right? I thought so at first, but then, I am not so sure. We have huge theological faculties at home, in Tuebingen even a whole department of “dogmatics”. I does not get more dogmatic than a department of dogmatics. And I kind of doubt that professors there are very apologetic about it. I am not even sure I am entirely convinced that one’s personal belief, whatever it is, is necessarily important to be a great scholar, up to a point. That’s why they are professionals, and there are internal standards for that. Or to be even blunter: I kind of doubt that you would expect any kind of personal convictions if you sign up for a tour through the vatican. Or maybe you would get them, but in an case very affirmatively.

Okay. What makes these questions so fascinating, in the case of the Kôgakkan University in particular and shintoism in general, is that your personal belief is kind of irrelevant anyway. No one wants to “convert” anyone to shintoism, because the kami do not necessarily want anything from you. They want their offerings, because they like food as much as the next guy, so someone better hand them their food. And if you visit the place where they hang out – the shrine is kind of a giant mensa – then don’t misbehave by disrespecting the proper decorum. That’s it. This kind of boils down to the discussion we had today what this whole sanpei-ritual “actually means”. And one way to see it is that it means absolutely nothing. At least not in the sense that we would expect. You do the bows. You get your hands right. You do the clapping. You bow again. You leave. That’s it. You are not supposed to think anything special, pray for anything, belief in anything. You can do all that, but you can also pray to Buddha at the same time, or just enjoy the silence. No one cares. The kami like their food (and the food in Ise is, generally, really amazing so far, so why wouldn’t they?). You just have to get the form right. Because it is just that, a form, and it symbolizes, well, nothing. Or so I think. The answer what all the young shinto-priests in university training are actually learning is, indeed, ten million movements, rituals, gestures, very much so like the people who do the martial arts things. Do you even have to “believe” in anything to practice shinto sincerely if you just get your forms right?

And now my interest is triggered since, of course, now we are turning this whole thing into a question of semiotics, right?

So, Sybille Krämer, a German media philosopher (whose book “Media, Messenger, Transmission”, by the way, got translated into Japanese lately) made this big point that Martin Luther kind of “semioticised” christianity, which is to say, he turned it into a structure of signs. In the sense of “conventionalized symbols”. The idea is simply that the Holy Communion, in the protestand church, just symbolizes christ. In the way that, I dunno, a picture of a dove symbolizes the concept of peace, since we agreed upon that. In contrast, in the catholic church, the idea is that the Holy Communion does not symbolize anything but actually *is* god. His flesh and blood. You get the point: convention versus ontology. So Krämer’s point is, if I remember right, that we have to understand catholicism (or the idea behind it) much more in terms of performativity instead of semiotics, presence instead of reference. However, and maybe you see where I am going with this, shintoism wouldn’t quite fit into this grid, because here you have the real performativity that doesn’t point toward any hetero-reference. But instead, it is just what it is, apparently: a bow, a clap, nothing more.

Except, I am not so convinced. Not of Krämer’s argument and not of this much too simple grasp of shintoism. Let’s see where we can take this in the next weeks. One obvious angle to approach the dichotomy is, I think, that to “free” a sanpei from any kind of “transcendental reference” (meaning: taking it as “pure form” without “meaning”) would mean that, for starters, nothing could ever go wrong. This line of thought would lead, I think, back to the question whether this “form” itself is something that was agreed upon at one point (and could, thus, be altered).

Okay. So at this point you thought this blog was going to be funny and full of nice pictures from Japan. Enter: Disappointment! I am actually going to think something about the stuff that I am supposed to be thinking about here. From time to time. But there is actually a good reasons for that. At the end of the course, everyone has to do a presentation about a topic of his or her own choosing, related to Ise and/or shinto. And since I want to work with the vocabulary I have (I am lazy and like to spend some time with seeing things and eating food), I am turning this into a semiotic problem. There you go. Tomorrow there will be funny stories again. And funny pictures are even following right after the message from our sponsors (thanks to Olga who made them).

Ise: a good place to hang out as a kami who likes food.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Day 2 – Bracing for Impact

It’s only little more than 24 hours since the airplane touched ground, but it already feels like a week. After a pretty comfortable flight I arrived in Nagoya yesterday, where 13 other foreigners from all over the world and myself were picked up by the wonderful Tamada-sensei from the Kôgakkan University staff. The quickest way to Ise is to cross the bay with a one hour ferry trip to Tsu and take another one hour overland bus from there. Bracing oneself for the impact. I tried to stay awake to soften the jetlag a little but was awake from one to four in the night anyway. A great way to repeat vocabulary, I can tell you. The dormitory is a little outside from Ise, my room faces one of those dreamy hinterland-railway tracks you might know from a Miyazaki-film or from a Taniguchi-manga: every 20 minutes or so a cute little ding-ding-ding, when an almost empty bimmelbahn passes by.

Anyway, my head is still spinning from the first day of classes. Information overload about the university’s history, its connection to shintoism, a tour around the campus with its libraries and museums, a crashcourse into shrine rituals, and finally a really amusing class about liguistic differences of the local dialects compared to standard Japanese (it is fascinating to me how I mainly manage to follow talks on topics like linguistic and semiotics while it remains much harder to understand an explanation of, say, how to rent books in a library). I have to say, the teachers are really fantastic: they are, without expections, avoiding to switch to English in order to overcome communicational obstacles but instead exchange Japanese expressions and synonyms with incredible subtlety. If you have ever tried mastering a foreign language (like *really* foreign), you’ll know how precious this is. Apparently there is no lack of teaching experience on their side. The challenging part, on my account, is to constantly figure out which of the unknown vocabulary is something that I should know but just don’t (because I have been too lazy in the past), in contrast to all the specialized terms that not even Japanese students could identify without the proper kanji. Anyway, rapid skill boosts are to be expected. So much for the first day, we’ll have a proper kangeikai now (a welcome party). I’ll finish this post with some random pictures of the campus and its surroundings – one of the oldest universities in Japan, who would have thought!?

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Day 1 – Going to Ise, the Basics

So, let’s start with a fine selection of Wikipedia-knowledge, enriched by some basics facts from Ôbayashi Taryôs “Ise und Izumo: die Schreine des Schintoismus”  (1983; Japanese family names will be given first, as usual) – let us assume my understanding will expand rapidly during the next weeks.

Ise is a city of about 130.000 people, located mostly within the Ise Shima national park at the eastern tip of the Kii peninsula in Mie prefecture: somewhere southeast of Kyoto, southwest of Nagoya. It is home to the Ise Grand Shrine (ise-daijingū), the most sacred Shinto shrine in all of Japan, rivalled only by the Izumo Taisha in Shimane Pefecture. The Grand Shrine is actually separated into two smaller shrines, the Naikû (or kûtai jingû, Inner Shrine) and Gekû (or toyouke, the Outer Shrine), which despite their names are separated some 7km from each other. Until 1955, the village surrounding the Inner Shrine was named “Uji”, the one around the Outer Shrine “Yamada”, combined to “Ujiyamada” in 1889 but renamed “Ise” only in 1955 due to some confusion with cities of similar names. “Ise” was chosen because the Grand Shrine of the same name was known all over Japan anyways. Already in the Edo era (1615-1867), there have been numerous pilgrimage-waves (okage-mairi), bringing literally millions of Japanese people to Ise.

So, among some of the facts that are amazing about Ise is that all the shrines get burned to the ground and completely rebuild every 20 years. This ritual, called shikinen-sengû, has been going on, apparently, since Temmu Tennô in the 7th century. The institutionalization of Ise is closely connected to the consolidation of the Imperial rule over Japan, but the Grand Shrine is much older than that, going back into myth (which I will certainly write about in a future post). Today, we can visit the 62th version of the Grand Shrine, built in 2013. The next shikinen-sengū is due for 2033, but the whole process takes about 8 years. Of course, it is not quite right that you can actually “see” the Grand Shrines since most areas of the Naikû und the Gekû are closed to visitors, only the Highpriest (the daigûji) and the Tennô family is ever allowed to enter the most sacred parts. This plays nicely into the wonderful myth that the Ise Grand Shrine is the place where one of the Three Holy Artefacts (sanshu no jingi) is located: the legendary Mirror Yata no Kagami, rumored to be somewhere inside. Together with the legendary Sword Kusanagi no Tsurugi and the legendary Pearl Yasakani no Magatama, these three items were handed down directly by the gods (Ninigi-no-Mikoto, to be precise) as the foundation of the Tennô dynasty and its paramount rule over Japan. In some way, the legendary artefacts can be said to “be” Japan, the sword representing Valor, the pearl Benevolence, and the mirror Wisdom. No one except the Highpriest and the Tennô may ever see them, so there are not even drawings around, but even in 1993 when the current Tennô Akihito was enthroned, there were two bundles of shrouded “packages” present in the room (said to be the Sword and the Pearl, so the Mirror may not have a night out in Tokyo). Anyways, there’s obviously much more to the historical, spiritual, and mytholgical significance of these things, but that’s what I am about to learn, hopefully.

Beside from all of that, Ise must be a wonderful city itself, located at the side of the two rivers Isuzu and Miya. At the nearby beachside there are two enshrined and thus also divine rocks in the water, called the Meoto-iwa, the “Wedding rocks”. Because they are married to each other. You can see them in the picture that I used for the header of this page. Because they are rocks, but also gods. This is not so highly unusual as it may sound.

What else? I’ve got a GoPro with me, so maybe I can do some fast forward-videos and similiar stuff as well. By now, I should be arriving at Nagoya airport, expect an update soon.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Ise & Japan Study Program 2017

My name is Lukas Wilde, I am a media scholar from Tuebingen University, Germany (learn more about myself at our department’s page or at my private site). From February 19 to March 12, 2017, you will find daily updates about my adventures at the Kôgakkan University’s “Ise & Japan Study Program 2017” right here!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment