Friday, April 13, 2018

The return: Ushiku 15 years later and a whole lot wiser

Left: Age 15                    Right: Age 30

I turned fifteen years old in the town of Ushiku, Japan.

I was visiting Japan for three weeks over the summer of 2002.

This was a summer of transition for me. I was transitioning from freshman to sophomore year of high school, from 14 to 15 years old, from private school to public school.

In the midst of all these transitions I took a trip that would open my world and chagne the course of my life.

The three weeks I spent in Japan, which overlapped with my15th birthday, were spent primarily in Ibaraki prefecture – in my friend’s hometown of Tsukuba, with brief visits to Mt. Fuji, Tokyo, and Ushiku.

On the day of my birthday, my friend’s family took me to the Ushiku Daibutsu, which is the tallest Buddha in the world. Back then, I didn’t know how monumental this birthday would be for me, or how significant this moment in my life would become, but over the years I have come to symbolize the great turning point in my life with this visit to the Ushiku Daibutsu.

When my 30th birthday approached in 2017, I decided that there was no other way I could bid farewell to my 20s without a second visit to the Ushiku Daibutsu. After all, the buddha had given me 15 glorious years of discovery, and I owed it to return and pay my respects.

Good ol’ rural Japan. You can’t expect it to change much.
When I arrived 15 years later, the buddha and surrounding area looking exactly the same. In that vain, I attempted to replicate old photos I took when I was 15.

There wasn’t a whole lot I remembered from my trip at 15, but I did have a vivid image of the inside of the Buddhas’ golden room. In my memory, I thought this golden room was in his head, but I now know it is in his stomach.

I ended my homage to the shrine by offering an enma. Typically an enma is a place where you write your wish or hope for the future, but my enma was special.
See you at 60, Ushiku Buddha.

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