Sunday, February 26, 2006


SOMETIMES YOU JUST GOTTA WALK ON FIRE


If you know Echo, you know she just had to walk on fire again. She married me, after all. So off we went yesterday morning to Sugawara Jinja so she could walk on some more fire.

You may remember our earlier quest for the renowned firewalking shrine event that it seemed no one had ever heard of, well this time was much the same, even though we'd been there before. It just seems to be a uniquely located location. This time we left the house at 10:40; the event started at 11, we figured maybe if we hurried we'd find it. Didn't work.

Before we'd been lost too long (we knew definitely that the shrine was somewhere within an uncertain number of kilometers from wherever we were) we drove to a train station that was rumored to be in the shrine's vicinity and checked the big local map posted in front of the station, spotted the little red dot that indicated Sugawara Jinja and drove there right away in the wrong direction. A word here about the big maps they put in front of train stations in Japan: those maps are made by local people, who already know where everything is. They don't need a map, and they expect pretty much the same of you. It is simply a polite invitation to get to know the place by direct experience.

So we wound up in a small alley street somewhere and asked a group of local elders, who were standing there chatting, where Sugawara Jinja was. Much hissing and musing issued at once from the group, till at last one of the men said basically, eyebrows rising: "If you want to go to Sugawara Jinja, why are you all the way over here?" An elder woman then gasped in astonishment: "Why, that's way over in Ebe!" (We had been looking for Ebe all along, but each place appears to have only one small place-name sign, which is kept in the mayor's office.

By a thoroughgoing process of elimination, we finally blundered into Sugawara Jinja via one of the infinite directions in which it lies, just as the priests were preparing the ashes for all the feet. Only 160 people would be issued the certificates enabling them to sear their soles; Echo got in at #159.

The firewalkers young and elder were hopping over the air-shimmering embers as they walked, but Echo said it wasn't nearly as hot as last year. She also walked the fire at a shrine near here not long ago, so I suppose you get used to it. Anyway it's easier than finding Sugawara Jinja.

7 comments:

Joy Des Jardins said...

Now there's something you don't see everyday...at least I don't. I hadn't been privy to Echo's desire of firewalking...remember I'm fairly new to your site. That's really something! Where were your feet during all of this Robert? Not big on filet of sole?

Robert Brady said...

I had cold feet; they remained solidly in their sneakers.

Tabor said...

You are married to one hot babe! Most women only relate to their feet in regard to how many different ways we can cover them--like me.

Mary Lou said...

Tell me again why she does this? ANd why YOU dont?

Robert Brady said...

For our answers, see post of March 7...

Andrew Willett said...

I saw the photo before I read the headline, and took Echo for a barefoot young woman with her nose buried in a book. (Perhaps that's exactly the state of mind one needs to cultivate for the exercise, after all.) What is she holding?

Robert Brady said...

She's holding the prayer parchment she'll footprint with her blackened feet after the firewalk.