77. Temples 6-10 + Friendlyship Party - William Matheson's Journal
Jul. 6th, 2008
11:50 pm - 77. Temples 6-10 + Friendlyship Party
Well, it’s been another great week here in Tokushima. It’s been very hot. Sometimes at school it gets so hot that the air conditioning is permitted to be turned on. The rest of the time, the controls are kept hidden away. I almost wish there were more school visitations planned for the summer, because then we’d have air conditioning for those days!
Sometimes it’s not too bad, though. Either I get adjusted to things, or the wind picks up, and since we have doors and windows opened on opposite sides of the rooms, this sometimes allows a slight, refreshing breeze. Of course, there’s a delicate balance between being so hot that sweat is dripping off of you and being able to enjoy a refreshing breeze that is also blowing papers and posters off of desks and shelves.
I’ve so far managed to avoid turning on the air conditioning in my apartment, but I don’t know how much longer this will last.
Last night we had a Friendlyship Party [sic] for D. – I just realized that at the end of this month, he will have been here for seventeen months. Seventeen months! This is at a school where people are lucky to get through twelve, while some people don’t even get on board the airplane. His tenure, in this context, has to be considered as something of an achievement.
We ate and drank prodigiously, and I ended up walking myself home between 11:20 and 12:30. It seemed to take forever. I already had a headache even as I went to sleep.
This morning the ball players were out around 7, and I could only groan, sweat, and make periodic adjustments to my fan. I painfully dragged myself up for food and water a few times. One way or another, this continued until nearly six o’clock – after lunch, resting in front of my fan would usually become sleeping in front of my fan. It might be time for air conditioning after all if the heat saps all of my energy and productivity.
* * *
Earlier on Saturday, F., K., and I got out to Temples Six through Ten. This was no easy task, as Temples One through Ten are in a line heading west from Naruto – Temple Six is in Kamiita, and the rest are in Awa City. You bike out to One, make it to Five, then bike back home. But when you want to do Six, you have to bike out well past Five, and when you’ve finished Ten you’ve got a huge ride home left.
On the bright side, that gave us an incentive to manage our time wisely and get to all five temples so that we wouldn’t have to go out that way again! We had a shorter-than-usual time limit, too, as F. and I needed to get back in time for the Friendlyship Party.
Aside from the predictable butt-soreness, fatigue, thirst, aching legs, etc.. we did quite well. Each of the temples was well worth visiting on its own merit – Eight deserves special mention for its flower gardens and vertical layout, and Ten is in a terrific, secluded spot on the side of a mountain.
Ten was quite a bit of work to get up to – much more so than Four. We gave up on our bikes less than a third of way up. Once inside the temple grounds I was shocked to find that the fun was just beginning – there was a very long set of stone steps to get up. By then I was already feeling weary, so you can just imagine the surprise and delight I felt upon seeing another long stair, even longer than the first!
After the top of that stair, a landing, and another short climb (which F. and K. watched from the top, no doubt thinking me a bit of a slow poke), we got into the temple proper.
Then F. found more stairs.
We went up, then up again. Upon the ultimate promontory, there were some great views of Awa and the entire river valley, and K. also found a monkey.
“Oh, look! A monkey! Look!”
I get my camera rea-
“AAAAAA! AAA! AAA! IT’S CHASING ME! AAAA!”
I do have one picture of them facing off, but both primates moved too quickly for me to set up a good shot.
The monkey ran off into the trees, and we were free to explore the top level (though I kept my distance from the woods). We started back down.
“You know, I think we could be friends. We just got off to a bad start, that’s all. I wonder…”
I followed her back up, staying about 5-10m behind her.
The predictable encounter was too frenzied for me to capture at all, although I do have a shot or two of K.’s post-facto, breathless shock. At one point the monkey had grabbed onto her pantleg. At least she had pants – I was only wearing shorts and had no leg protection.
We returned to the main part of the temple to find the people staring at us and grinning. “Did you hear us?” we asked F. “Yep, we sure did.”
K. surmised that the reason their encounter had been such a ruckus is that she’d had some fruit tied to her waist that the monkey wanted. Actually, she may have unwittingly taken fruit from a stash the monkey was eating.
It’s scary how quickly relations between humans and/or their distant cousins can go south upon little misunderstandings. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a similar situation myself, being in a country where I know nothing of the culture and but a miniscule modicum of the language. And at some points in our lives, we all do things that are downright uncivilized.
After the encounter, I found myself impressed at the monkey’s ability to express his frustration. He needed no interpretation or translation. I also wondered if we are all like that monkey on the inside – just a collection of wants and desires that need immediate gratification, and with a violent response at the ready whenever things don’t go our way.
Temples Eleven and beyond should be really interesting…