Things have been been pretty busy these last two weeks, not that I’m complaining about it, as it’s mainly down to farewell dinners ^^. I’ve been trying to tie up some loose ends and prepare as much as I can for the upcoming pilgrimage on Shodo island (小豆島).
I wasn’t able to acquire the book in English on the walk, as it was printed over 20 year ago, so I’m going to have to make do with some printouts of rough temple-to-temple maps in Japanese. I’ve managed to secure myself a sleeping bag and small gas stove, as well as a letter from Bokusho-san, the temple priest here in Haga-cho that we visited every Wednesday for Tea Ceremony, addressed to temple masters on Shodoshima. Perhaps it’ll secure me a night’s accommodation or two under a temple roof…
Tomorrow is my final day of work, but I’ve been winding down all this week by exchanging addresses with some of the staff and generally starting to say goodbye. I plan to return for a day or two before I go to Tokyo, so I can pick up the rest of my stuff and see most people once again.
I think I might have breached another barrier sometime recently. I’ve previously written how boring the work was at times, but things have picked up recently. Perhaps it’s due to the computer work I’ve been doing (updating the GAP file for future volunteers), that I am working with the knowledge my time is drawing near and that, gradually, as tough as it is, I am conversing more and more with the staff. However, I still feel unequal in my place, as I’m not fully self-sufficient, cannot entirely do the same work as the other staff and cannot befriend them properly due to the language barrier.
I’ve worked hard to try and build rapport as I normally would with people I can communicate without much problem, rather than succumb to fitting in as ‘the novelty gaijin’. I don’t think I’ve been able to achieve this properly, but I do believe that it’s just down to the language and not that foreigners can never feel fully accepted in Japan, as general opinion holds. For a country that was entirely insular until not so long ago and still has a relatively small foreigner population compared to the Asian population, I think it’s far-fetched to want to be able to walk about and not draw at least some attention just because you look different, but actually being accepted as an equal within a community is something I still hold hope in. As always, I second guess at my own naive thinking, but I feel the best approach to this is a postive one. It’s unlikely the view would change if nobody made the effort to try.
But anyway, I’ll probably have more to write about on my feelings of leaving once I’ve been back in England for a few days and the inevitable sadness that results for me whenever an exceptionally good time has ended has taken hold. For now, I’ll bid farewell and hope for a safe and enjoyable walk. I probably won’t be able to use the internet while doing the pilgrimage, nor can I say exactly how long I’ll be gone, but I aim to be back to catch a night bus from Himeji on Monday 25th. Wish me luck and a bite-free time! – I’m not kidding, with Japan’s poisonous pit viper (the mamushi), the nasty centipede (mukade) and countless mosquitos (ka). If anything causes me to fail my pilgrimage, it’ll be physical injury, or running out of time because I get lost. But let’s stay positive! ^_^. I’m sure I’ll return successful. Until then, take care all.