From My Japan Trip – Taking Care of Spirits

As I mentioned in my last post, I am recently returned from an 8 day trip to Japan. As I write this, I am still recovering from the wonders of being crammed into a metal cylinder and hurled through the air at high speeds for approximately 12 hours. More than that, though, I am in the process of unpacking this phenomenal experience and what it is going to mean to me spiritually in the long run.

Here is a picture that I took at the Sengakuji Zen Temple – the memorial site for the 47 Loyal Samurai of Ako:


I include this photo because it speaks volumes to me about my Japanese experience. You will note a ladder in the foreground and a man on that ladder. That gentleman is up that ladder trimming this gorgeous tree by hand – with hand clippers. You will note that the grounds around him are also well manicured. That is because they, too, are carefully tended by a staff of gardeners who do everything by hand. The atmosphere of beauty and silence is thus preserved so that those who visit the site can contemplate the loyalty and sacrifice of these warriors rather than listening to power mowers, electric hedge trimmers and leaf blowers.

For those of you who do not know the story of the 47 Loyal Samurai, here is the Wikipedia site.

My visit to this site was one of the high points of my trip. My group spent the morning there, despite rainy conditions, and honored these samurai in our own way and with incense sticks that one purchases at the site. There is a deep sense of melancholy in the place but also a strong feeling of contentedness bordering on joy. It saddens the heart that these men had to go so far to restore their honor but it gladdens the heart to see that their sacrifice has been honored continuously for over 300 years. They have not been forgotten or relegated to the pages of a dry history book.

My major takeaway from this trip was a pretty simple one. The Japanese know how to honor their spirits.

Everywhere I went in Japan, from the densest urban area to more rural towns, I saw cemeteries with headstones and wooden markers that honored the dead. If one went into one of the cemeteries, one quickly found evidence that the memorial sites were tended and incense burned as people communed with their dead relatives.

Shinto (Japan’s native religion) temples/shrines abound throughout the country. I saw shrines in places like Mount Fujiyama and in the midst of Kashiwa City, where I was staying, as well as more elaborate temples in places like Nikko. No matter where those shrines and temples might be though, it was not uncommon to see someone making an offering and praying before the shrine.

During the trip, I was privileged to train with a Japanese sword master and Shingon Buddhist priest. Shingon is a melding of Vajrayana style Buddhism (think Tibet) and Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan. Once our training was done, this sensei shared a meal with us and then took us into his garage temple before bidding us farewell. The atmosphere of that temple was so highly charged that I had trouble keeping my psychic feet on the ground. Why? In my view, it was simply because this temple, like so many others in Japan was well and truly cared for – the rites of Shingon were enacted there regularly and with the attention that only a true master can bring to such work.

I found my experience of Japan deeply humbling and more than a little unsettling. I think of myself as a spiritual person and, in the post before I left, I defined spirituality as finding ones place in the spiritual world, but the Japanese made me realize that I have a long way to go in that quest. As a consequence, I am considering how I can translate my experience into practice.

As always, I will keep you posted as I go along but, for now, I think that I am going to go place a plaque that I had carved in Japan on my ancestor altar and have a talk with the ones who seem intent on hitting me up side the head with a cosmic clue by four. I am sure that I will have more to say on this topic as time goes by – as I mentioned, I am unpacking a lot from the trip – but I will return to my more regularly scheduled program next week.


About stormeye60

A place for discussing the interface between magic and things that go bump in the night. View all posts by stormeye60

4 responses to “From My Japan Trip – Taking Care of Spirits

  • Stephanie Qich

    Welcome Home Traveler! This is a very interesting post. I’ve heard similar takes from many travelers, it seems to be a very real and noticeable phenomenon. I’ve also heard, and had some experience myself, that it does take a number of people concentrating all together in the same area in order to really ‘get things going’ spiritually.

    In my twenties i have boyfriend o many years with a very interesting father (the dad was Nissei, as it happens). The dad, “L”, had trained to become a Methodist minister while young and had a lot of contact with missionaries. L: later became interested in a lot of alternative, occult spiritual matters and was involved with a group studying under Yogananda for a while.

    L spoke to many missionaries who would tell of the many paranormal occurrences which took place in more ‘primitive’ lands as a matter of course, things which never happened back in middle class, 1960’s USA. The missionaries would say it’s as iff the combined world view or beliefs of all the people living in their overseas locations made these events possible.

    At the same time, L had some experiences with a particular little old lady who studied with Yogananda. One particular incident really stuck with him. The LOL was complaining that her TV was on the blink, all she got was static, so L said he’d come over and try to fix it. When he got there, he saw the TV screen filled with nothing but snow. He pulled the set away from the wall, and saw the problem – the TV was not even plugged in. You’ll not be surprised to hear that the LOL was quite nice about it all, and of course was considered to be pretty advanced spiritually.

    I have another story about His Holiness the Sakya Trizin, but it will have to wait for another time. It seems that groups are good for this, but flying solo will definitely get results as well!

    Storm, you know i’ll be waiting to hear what happens for you going forward! Happy Day!!! steph

    • stormeye60

      Hi, Steph:

      I think that someone should write the definitive book on appliances that work without being plugged in 🙂 I have seen this sort of phenomenon mentioned in many paranormal reports and I have always wondered how “they”, whoever they are, manage such a thing. EMF? Hmmmm . . . .

      While I certainly would not call Japan a ‘primitive’ land, I understand what you are saying about the missionaries. I seems to me that the spirits, however you care to define that, are much more likely to cause paranormal phenomenon in places where they are welcomed, accepted and worked with on a regular basis.

      And, I have a story or two to tell about interactions with Tibetan lamas so feel free when you have a moment.

  • Stephanie Qich

    “I think that someone should write the definitive book on appliances that work without being plugged in :-)” oh, you got a big laugh out of that one! and yes, how DO ‘they’ do it?

    yeah, the missionaires thot japan ‘primitive’, i think it’s exquisitely evolved and elegant. maybe not under the thumb of western imperialism? “….. much more likely to cause paranormal phenomenon in places where they are welcomed, accepted and worked with on a regular basis.” Very well put, summarized and i would definitely agree!

    oh, i want to trade stories too! but in the meantime – are you familiar with Walter Bosely’s “Empire of the Wheel? series? i’ve become interested in this topic, not least as it has some resonances/synchs with my family history and location in the Californian Sierran foothills. The EOW stuff is quite convoluted and expansive, but it focusses on a series of occult workings in San Bernadino around the early 1900’s involving ritual murder….i just suggested to Walter that you would be a very valuable person to talk to for background on how that type of working would come about, ideas the theory of these workings, etc. Don’t know if Walter will bite or if you like dealing with that type of thing (or if you have the time!) but i thought i would give you a head’s up.

    Here’s a post i did on the various connections of theme between some of the EOW material and my family background, if you have a bit of time to read something unrelated to any practical matter whatsoever (but hey it’s got an awesome picture of my amazing grandpa racing his motorcycle in the 1920’s!):

    take care and have a great day storm!!!! steph

  • stormeye60

    Afraid I am not familiar with the “Empire of the Wheel” series . . . but happy to bat around ideas by email if needed.

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