Friday, August 10, 2012

Kitsune: Meeting the Japanese fox god, in a mountain village of Japan

Traditional cucumber cooling - low energy treat of summer

Opening Scene: Morning Walk

Today I have Day Two of my Creative Life Design workshop to deliver. 
First step: inspire the inspirer. 
So I step out of the farmhouse, and make my way down the road, fully expecting to be immersed in beauty and surprises. 

The smell of woodsmoke is my favourite aromatherapy
Hozuki and morning glory green curtain container garden

Mitsuketta! (I found one!)  
Another 'Edge Garden' to add to my collection.

This container garden holds the latern-like Hozuki, also known as ground cherry, or tomatillo. Its companion is the ever-vigourous morning glory, a symbol of summertime. 

The owners enjoy the festive hozuki decorations, enjoy the complex, mango-like taste,  and enjoy the play of dappled light they create inside the window. 
You also get to turn down the air conditioner.

Since the nuclear spill and energy shut-down, these green curtains have sprung up everywhere.

Green curtain of hozuki and morning glory

I wander down the road. 
Another one!

In this little doorstep ecosystem,  flowers have their water on hand, in cheerful plastic colours,  ready to go. 
You can grab gumboots or umbrellas as needed, and grab the cute pink laundry basket on your way to the field, reminding you to bring the laundry back. 
Its the 'bus stop' method I was teaching yesterday, for setting up your house to tidy itself.

Useful 'edge' garden with rain chain

The rain chain directs the water from the roof to the pot plants, as needed. missed.

Well, they're getting there.

The world is like a painting, in every direction. 

It looks like nature. Yet in this tiny country, every scrap, every centimetre of semi-level countryside has actually been altered, inhabited, for centuries. 

The row of trees leads and lures me into the mountain.

Who would have thought? This morning I get to meet the local fox gods, at a tucked-away shinto shrine.
Or Kitsune, as Wikipedia knows to call them.

As I never decline a chance for a wish or a prayer, I do the usual drill:
Ring the bell to let him or her know you are here.
Clap twice.
Bow once.
Then, deliver your wish, your prayer, or just leave a comment.

There's a proper, main shrine down the road, and I generally save up my grand prayers for there - the end of slavery, no more war.

The fox shrine is for more playful prayers, so I closed eyes, to think up something interesting.
This time the prayer got delivered my way, instead.

The fox spirit congratulated me on what a deft little fox I had turned into.
How I had gotten so skilled at shape-shifting, at adapting to live in other people's houses, cozy then free, cozy then free.
She congradulated me for hanging on in there long enough to get old and wise and full of tails,  and to  hold workshops that change things for people, big time.
The way Im becoming able to solve wicked problems with just a sentence, a phrase, really is starting to look like magic.

She even asked me if I was planning on doing that thing that some kitsune are said to to.
Taking on the shape of a lovely woman, they draw unsuspecting young men into a dream-world life,  where their fox-wife looks afar them beautifully and dutifully. Then one day they see her tail, or some other clue, and awaken, disoriented, disheveled, and far from home.
Mmm. What kind of question is that?? Why ask me?

Then she gave me a present - just an image, a new one, to hold in my mind.
It was of a lovely peaceful fox-hole in the brown earth, filled with the fluffy warm bodies of my little fox-babies.  I can nestle up with them, have an underground holiday with them, snoozing and gnawing on the bones of what I gather on my break-time walks.

Motherhood can be a retreat from the glare and noise of the world.
You can leave the world while you do it, in a sleepy haze, until they are big and leave you, as they do.

I never saw it like that before.

Foxes can make hard things soft. They can make all kinds of shapes transform. 
Once they are old and wise, that is, after a good long time of avoiding traps, growing extra tails, getting extra foxy.

How beautiful the rhythms and patterns of the world are. 
How lucky I am to be immersed in all this pleasure. 

Conclusion: Evening 

The two-day workshop is now over. 
The children now have free range of the whole farmhouse. 
Beautiful, clever children, but diabolical makers of noise.  

I make a run for it. 

Flowers light themselves up with a natural neon, in the darkening air.

In the middle of nowhere, by a winding river, a Fire-box stands on duty. 
A Phantom Tollbooth. 

The swish of mountain water down the roadside gutters of Japan. 
They almost write their own haiku.

Not all is beautiful in this world. 

Suddenly, someone is staring at me though a barn doorway.
Its a mother cow. 
Tied up, and from the look of the fields nearby, never, ever to enjoy into this sweet flowery green. Never ever to enjoy the playful air. 

Look at her poor legs. 
I dearly want to let her out, but of course I don't.  
That would cause terrible consternation in the village.

I think of the Morimoto's fridge, their cooking.
Its all skilfully, deliciously vegan. But right now my stash of milk and butter sits there smug amongst their good food. Its a pleasure I cannot be without. I bring my personal dairy to every house I visit. 
I think of the Morimoto's, work so hard and joyfully, reducing the misery in the world. 

Its getting dark now, and I turn home.

Then the strange scene occurs. 

In the twilight, around a bend in the road sits an old lady in wheelchair, talking to herself.
I get closer, and hear another voice. 
Ah, its her old husband. enjoying the evening breeze from the porch, a few steps away.

"What a hot day it was" I offer in greeting, as I glide by.
"Yes, terribly hot!  Have a good night" they say. 
"Goodnight to you too".
Their voices are sweet and casual. 
Its as if every evening a willowy blonde lady descends from the forest and greets them, in fluent Japanese.

But I just know what they said to each other once I had passed. 

"Kitsune da!"

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pot plants for a hot country - this is how you do it

Introducing the Green Curtain.

Bitter gourd vines scramble up the net, covering the sun-facing window.

Reflectors keep the pots of soil from being baked.

The whole setup keeps the hairdressing salon, and the whole world from too much warming.

Seen from Mitzi's Car in Hammamatsu, on my way to speak at the Art And Design University.