41 Shimokita: Holy help

Breakfast, brunch and lunch was at a michi no eki, road station.  Road stations reflect their surroundings, usually being staffed by locals and selling local produce. Both locals and visitors use the road stations, a sign they are doing something right. 

Yokohama`s Michi no Eki had many memorable flavours.  At the entrance, the tables were piled up with rapeseed and garlic products – including Magic Black, a chocolate scented with black garlic.  Ice cream flavours include sea cucumber, hiba tree, rapeseed, scallop and funori (glue plant).  

I ate a pack of firm, green rapeseed-flavoured doughnuts, a scallop burger and a carton of tokoroten, a translucent, flavourless noodle made from tengusa seaweed dressed with vinegar, mustard and sesame seed.   

———————–

Pedalling along the narrow road north on a basket bike was harder and hotter work than I anticipated; I stopped for a break at a roadside shrine just outside Yokohama.  

The ancient shrine building was setback from the busy road, the path went through a damp carpet of moss with a cryptomeria plantation on one side and virgin, mixed forest on the other.  A couple of years ago a shaman summoned to the shrine saw hundreds of school-age dragons flying between the trees; inside the shrine she saw tiny dragons crawling on the floor.  The forest is a graduate school for dragons, the shrine priest told me half-jokingly.

The shaman cannot marry, the priest said, or she will lose all her powers.  But, he added, using shamanic power increases sexual desire so the shamans must have boyfriends.

I met the shrine priest in the car park.  A tall and slender man in spotless white robes, he looked a little holy and distant, not quite a part of this world.  Then he got down on his hands and knees and started to fix my bike:  “You`re really planning to go all the way to Oma on this?!”

After oiling the chain and adjusting the brakes, he made a spiritual donation, a sticker of a grey dragon marked with the sacred words: Safety Driving.  I treasure it.  He also gave me a small bell on a key ring, “Ring it when you`re feeling hot and tired or stressed, it will cool and calm you down.” 

Later that day, after putting up my tent on a beach and having a bath at the local onsen, my mobile phone rang.  It was the priest calling to check if I was ok:  “Be careful tomorrow.  And leave early, there are no towns at all where you`re heading.  And drop in at the shrine on the way back, you can stay the night.”

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2 Responses to 41 Shimokita: Holy help

  1. Anonymous says:

    Another beautiful post. I look forward to each new installment, and am really enjoying your journey through a world that’s so different to mine. Tokidoki Tokyo’s my adult version of a wardrobe with Narnia in it. I don’t often comment but I do always read. Thank you for your blog,
    Jaunty.

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