Going Out With a Whimper

With each visit to Chieko’s parent’s house Ray is increasingly mobile and more aware of his surroundings. It didn’t take him long this time to find the gong/bowl thingy in front of the family shrine, and to subsequently spend a lot of time banging it.

If you aren’t familiar with this element of Japanese culture, it’s common for the eldest child of the family to keep a Buddhist shrine dedicated to the deceased parents. On the shrine are pictures of the dead parent(s), and there are always flowers adorning it. Chieko’s father places a small bowl of rice on the shrine each day, and at the moment there’s a pineapple as well. The other element of having the shrine is that each morning family members kneel in front of it, offer a prayer to the grandparents, light a stick of incense, clap their hands, and ring the gong. This is the first thing Chieko always does when we arrive here. The rest of her family, including here, always light incense and pray to the parents/grandparents when they wake up in the morning, so I also associate the smell of incense with breakfast in the Iguchi household.

Long story short, Ray is doing nothing short of earning himself eternal damnation here.

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We arrived in a pretty heavy snowstorm last night, though it was only bad for the final hour or so of our trip. Otherwise it was just rainy and windy. Today the skies cleared and it was a beautiful, snow-covered day. We went out do something (literally, anything, to get out of the house and enjoy the sun), and I of course wanted to take some pictures. I took about four before my battery crapped out on me.

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I made another trip later on in the day, by which time the sky was the same color as the snow-capped mountains. I managed a few decent pictures, but missed my chance earlier in the day.

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These pictures look pretty much like every other one I take here in the winter, which makes sense since I drive around on the same roads look at the same mountains rising up out of the same snow-covered landscape. Hope that’s not a problem!

The next two days are forecast for a bunch of snow, so it should be a cozy new years here. Looking forward to it, and then a quick debauch trip to Tokyo on Sunday for a night. I don’t anticipate having any good stories to tell while we’re here, but hopefully I’ll have a change to take more pictures to post here. Until then, back under the kotatsu I go…

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