‘The days would come when burglars and thieves were as
innumerable as grains of sand on the beach’
The great robber, Ishikawa Goemon (1558-94)
“So far you’ve made it sound like Japan was nothing but samurai steel.” Said Robyn. “Weren’t there any women and children?”
Of course.” I said, looking at my watch. “They’re waiting at our first temple.” We got up to leave, and pay the bills at Bills.
“No tip, I guess.” Robyn said. Soy tip. No tip.
“Only presented in shugibukuro bags, ahead of time, in high end places.” I said. “As a greeting ritual to ask for a favour. Otherwise they consider it an insult, and will come running after you to return it.”
Everyone bowed as we left, some deeper than others. Heading back to the station, we passed a large outdoor mechanical clock, whose visible mechanism took the form of Peter Pan.
“There seems to be an unspoken desire to remain a child here.” Said Robyn.
“The responsibilities as a grownup are that daunting.” I said. On the station platform, we took an electric train heading in the wrong direction, and ended up at Koshigoe, near Myodenji Temple where Yoshitsune had waited in vain for so long, to see his brother, Yoritomo. Disorientation.
But we caught the next one going the other way, past Inamuragasaki Cape, where Nitta Yoshisada had waited for low tide seven hundred years earlier, through beautiful flowered neighborhood lanes, to Hase station. We walked up the slope of a wooden hill to the Hasedera.
“This is the women and children temple?” Robyn asked.
“Sort of.” I said, as we entered beside a huge parasol, into a pretty garden full of ponds. We were early. The gigantic red torii we had passed under was supposed to have marked our transition from the profane to the sacred, but the unwanted din of an army of uniformed leaf-blower attendants, flowing carpets of cherry blossoms across the ground, made us wonder if we hadn’t got it backwards.