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Published: March 21st 2014
Gobo FieldSpring Equinox, A Day to Visit Graves
Agricultural area surrounds the small city of Gobo.
March 20, 2014
So this official holiday actually takes place on the twenty-first, but I decided to make my trip to Wakayama to visit Obachan’s gave today since Ellen has the day off tomorrow for the holiday.
Leaving Kure at 5:00 in the morning, I got to Gobo, the nearest JR station at 10:44, after taking the shinkansen to Osaka and an express train to the Wakayama area. It was raining and I was glad to have brought an umbrella. It’s about an hour walk to Minami-Shioya, and on the way I stopped by a market stand to get flowers and oranges. I had a short conversation with the man there and explained that I was Nikkei-American going to visit an ancestor at the ohaka. I guess that’s not everyday that someone does that.
It took me a little bit to locate the temple, especially as I didn’t want to pull out my computer, where google image maps were saved, in the rain, but I found a small shrine and, taking shelter from the rain there, pulled out my computer and easily found where I should
On the Bridge from Gobo to Shioya
Looking away from ocean, which can be seen in the distance from the bridge.
go. I followed a road out into farmland and was able to use John Wada’s directions to find the temple.
It was a small temple with two cemetery plots. The first thing I saw was our family mon so I was excited to have found it so fast, but then I realized that a lot of them had our mon. Our mon and another mon seemd to be the two major ones in the cemetery. The first cemetery I found didn’t seem to fit the description from John Wada, so I ended up going higher up the hill and found a cemetery right next to the temple, which seemed to fit the description.
So one problem is that none of the plots with our mon actually said 和田.I looked around a bit, too, and couldn’t find Wada. So it occurred to me that they could be the posthumous Buddhist names, like how Grandma is Shakuni 和家, (I’m not sure about the second kanji), so I just went with the ones that seemed to fit the description. There was only one corner that had plots with our
On the Bridge from Gobo to Shioya II
Similar view as last picture showing river bank and light industry.
mon, anyway. Maybe I got it wrong and some other family got flower and oranges, but I hope it was still a good gesture to the neighbors then.
After spending some time there, I walked back to Gobo a different way, and came across a shrine there called Shiya-oji Shrine. I climbed the steps up to the top of the hill and found the place completely deserted. I put some change in the moneybox at the shrine and rang the bell loudly since no one was around. As I stepped down from the shrine, a sudden wind started up. Birds in the trees started going nuts. I looked up to see a hawk rising in the wind from behind the temple. For a while it hovered almost directly over me. Another hawk then rose from the other direction and the two rode the draft together, flying low above me. They circled around for a few minutes and then flew away as mysterious as they had come.
It was a thrilling experience that reminded me of grandma’s funeral, when it was windy and the hawk swooped right over the tent and flew above us for a while,
First time I've actually used the rain cover for my backpack. It saved the day.
later joined by two others. The symbolism of our family crest and the appearance of these hawks when remembering our ancestors has been mystifying.
On my way out, I saw a small booth with a stamp inside so you could make your own go-shuin. Moved by the event, I stamped the inside cover of my book with the shrine’s insignia, which is an image of a girl. I saw it a few other times, too, and will have to look up the meaning of it.
I caught the train at Gobo, hoping to get a chance to stop my Wakayama, but the hour had grown late, and checking the train schedule, decided to head back to Shin-Osaka and then back to Hiroshima. At the start of the three-day weekend, the shinkansen was packed. I had to stand in the crammed opening area until Fukuyama, the stop before Hiroshima, before getting a seat. But it went fast because I was reading After Dark by Haruki Murakami (in English), which I finished just on the trains today. It’s a good character ensemble work.
Anyway, I hadn’t known that Friday was a holiday to visit graves until late this week.
Little Shrine in Minamishioya
I took shelter here to pull out my maps.
It seemed like the timing just happened to be auspicious.
Oh, also the oranges from the countryside are the most delicious things and they’re cheap too. In a pack of four, I left two at the ohaka but ate the other two and they were so good. Those were the ones from the man I met who sold me the flowers. But I had another pack I had got at the train station that were really bad. They were like hard lemons. So I had the best and worst oranges of my life in Gobo. Except for Uncle Mitz’s. Those could tie for the best.
(Also the temple name is either Kosen-ji or Hosen-ji.)
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