We arrived at Kamakura Station and a photographer was taking a photo of a black and white poster. On the poster, large shrines were floating in the waves of the sea. It looked very old, and I assumed it was a museum exhibition. I was very interested, but a museum wasn't possible. Our day's exploits were about seeing this charming beach city.
The day was beautiful, sunny, warm- the only day without rain in the last 2 weeks. The beach was perfect, our feet were sore, we immersed them in the sands and warm waters.
Around 2pm, hungry and tired, we stumbled on this little cafe just off the beach. Lukas had, of course, been craving his coffee, and I, my bread, and here it was. The best coffee we've ever tasted and possibly the tastiest bread. Cost was very high. But they had a sign posted which, I think, said, "The quality is high so please don't question our prices." We enjoyed it thoroughly as a respite: a moment of shade, beach breezes and perfect taste. A handsome moment for a handsome couple on vacation in a little beach town. Oh, the good sweet life.
And then something happened.
People in "happi" and "tabi" (summer festival wear) began coming down the street.
A portable shrine decked out in samurai regalia and florescent pink flower garlands, carrying drum-pounding pre-teens, passed us.
Drunken men wearing sumo-type thongs trickled by.
Two men came from the beach wearing nothing but seaweed. Crews of old men photographers gathered beside us. Asked to take our photo.
The shrines were headed for the ocean.
|Out of the Sea|
|After the Sea|
What struck me most profoundly is this: It took many neighborhood teams taking turns, each turn of 40 or 50 men and women, to carry these heavy, sacred, old and profusely decorated shrines down to the sea and back. I was brought to tears by the community effort it took. It took many many people, all working together, huffing and puffing. And laughing and really goofing it off and drinking sake and beer. They must do it this way to get all these people excited and doing this, together, year after year after year.
And as I watched 2 shrine carriers fall in the crush of the waves and wood, disappearing into the ocean, I gasped. I scanned the water searching for them. I wondered if they would return from the sea.