Summer Winding Down

Summer in 2020 came and went probably like no summer in recent memory. Ignoring the painful facts for a moment that there’s a global pandemic, politics are pretty bat-shit crazy, and the economic woes, and my stress level was through the roof, it was a quiet and low-key summer. Hunkering down for the summer had a few silver linings, in that I got to see my kids a lot more, and some long-neglected things around the home got fixed. The kids had little “summer reading challenges” I gave them and I had personal projects of my own that I mostly got done.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about a certain poem from the ancient Japanese poetry anthology, the Hyakunin Isshu, which I have a whole blog devoted to. The poem, number 98, out of 100 reads:

風そよぐKaze soyoguIn the evening
ならの小川のNara no ogawa nowhen the wind rustles the oaks
夕ぐれはYugure waat Nara-no-Ogawa
みそぎぞ夏のMisogi zo natsu noit is the ablutions that are
しるしなりけるShirushi narikeruthe only sign it’s still summer!
Translation by Joshua S Mostow

This poem refers to a frequent ritual in Japanese Shinto religion called misogi (みそぎ or 禊) which is a kind of purification ritual through immersion in a river, waterfall or the sea. Shinto differs from Buddhism, among other ways, by its heavier emphasis on purification as contact with death, or trauma or other negative forces can weigh on a person and bring misfortune not to mention the mental burden. So, since antiquity, water immersion as a form of ritual purification was a way to “reset” the balance and avoid potential misfortune later.

Photo by on

Further, the 1st day of the 8th month in the old Japanese calendar (early September in modern times) is traditionally marked by a special ceremony called hassaku (八朔) where the first rice harvests of the season is dedicated to the gods in gratitude. Sometimes this is in the form of mochi rice cakes instead. It is still practiced even today by some.

Anyhow, looking forward to getting kids back into school (sort of), but also going to kind of miss the weirdest, yet quietest summer I can remember in my life.

Published by Doug

🎵Toss a coin to your Buddhist-Philhellenic-D&D-playing-Japanese-studying-dad-joke-telling-Trekker, O Valley of Plentyyy!🎵He/him

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