This morning was cool, calm, and soggy. Billows of soft, melancholic clouds sprinkling down precipitation, acting as a blanket for the infamous early sun.
The light rain in the early hours left a damp, but not drenched landscape to explore today. I suppose the adage of April showers can only lead to a lush and beautiful view in May.
When the rain started to subside, I found myself en route to my daily morning activity- the visit to a vending machine.
The usual choice has been a particular brand of cold-brewed coffee, despite my distaste for such a contradiction.
I suppose the appeal for this drink can be a metaphor for adaptation to one's current environment.
The last month has immersed me in various situations, most of which were completely foreign to my existence.
Long days on the road can steer someone in a direction that they wouldn't have taken before.
Everything from your taste to your perspective on life can be shifted in an instant, laying a foundation for your new path in life.
I haven't taken the experiences I've had in Japan for granted and if this first month on the island has indicated anything,
it's that I'm sure to stumble across many new paths the rest of the way.
As for today's activity, I'm going to head back to the Harajuku area and visit the Meiji Jingu Shrine.
This place is often considered to be one of the best destinations to visit in the city (And for good reason).
The Shrine was built to honor the late Emporer Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken.
Unlike past emperors of the country, Meiji and Shoken's mark on the country was significant as their era laid the foundation for what the country is today.
To be specific, their era ended the wars between the factions throughout the land and modernized the country with many western influences.
In a time when the industrial revolution modernized much of the world, Japan set aside many of its traditions and customs to adapt.
To many, that may have seemed sacrilegious and taboo to abandon such principles.
Fortunately, it proved to be a wise move as the country took a quantum leap forward with its technological and engineering feats.
The high-tech, forward-thinking utopia of Tokyo wouldn't exist today, had it not been for the decision to modernize a post-Feudal and consistently traditional country.
My hotel is a few metro stops from the Shrine, so it shouldn't take long for me to get there.
Speaking of which, I'm staying in the same place all week because as you can imagine, finding accommodations during a holiday week here is a real chore.
Let's just say that this capsule hotel isn't the same quality as the one I stayed in last week. I don't think they've updated the A/C units in the pods for decades.
On to the Shrine... The infamous Tokyo metro lines were slightly less congested, which helped the transition to the area much quicker. Meiji Jingu is impossible to miss, from a distance.
The Giant, earth-shaded Torii Gate welcomes visitors with its massive, jolly stance. Unlike Senso-Ji, Meiji Jingu feels rooted in its natural surroundings.
Thousands of trees lay cover to this shrine, which also houses a large garden and pond area, known as the "Inner Garden". Yeah, not a clever nickname...
Regardless, Meiji Jingu Shrine promises to have a vast, green scenery that can't be found at many other places in the city.
From what I understand, the Inner Garden was a place the Emporer and his wife would frequent often, which led to the Shrine being built around his area.
This place is also known to host many weddings, especially during the spring months.
I came across one mid-ceremony during my stroll through. The endless smiles and blissful energy beaming from the wedded couple only kindles fond... And painful memories of her.
She was the unsuspecting light that peered into my life. The connection between us had this certain kind of magnetism.
What brought us together was musical, as if we were playing the same melody. Everything from extended gazes to forthright gestures.
She worked in concert with me, all the way down to the nonverbal cues.
I thought that she was the love of my life. Everything just seemed right, until it wasn't.
What transpired between us is still puzzling, to me. I don't know what event steered us in different paths but at some point, her attitude changed.
The grateful grin twisted into something rude. It seemed like anything I did wasn't enough, nor was it appreciated. I tried everything I could to salvage our kinship, but it was to no avail.
As you can imagine, the heartbreak was devastating. It was unlike any kind of emotional stress that I had felt before.
The sleepless nights, the constant worry state. It was an agony that I never realized could exist. Perhaps the worst part about it was the unknown status of her safety.
She pushed me away and cut me out of her life, so I'm not able to check in on her. Not knowing her whereabouts or current peers added a layer of concern, after our breakup.
I should note that she had some traumatic experiences earlier in life, which lead to her being very guarded and quick to push people away.
I'm just afraid that her experiences in her upbringing will lead her to a crowd that won't respect her ultimate wishes.
Fortunately, time did live up to its billing as the ultimate healer and my intense heartache subsided.
I feel like part of me will always have those feelings for her, but as it stands, there's nothing more for me to do. I exercised every avenue to keep our flame going.
As difficult as it was to have her depart my life, I can no longer allow regret and sorrow to linger in my soul.
As these thoughts continue to perpetuate my mind, my stroll through the shrine eventually takes me to an Ema.
These are wishing boards (usually made of wood) that people can add to when they want something to come true. Visitors are encouraged to write their own and add it to the Ema.
According to local legend, Kami (god) will be able to read any wish from the heart, regardless of the language.
In a heavy moment of reflection, I articulate a deep wish from within and add it to the Ema. If my recent rambling isn't any indication, my wish is tied to her.
I won't go into detail but let's just say that I hope our paths intersect again someday.
A few hours pass and I get my fill of the wooded, encapsulated Shrine. Something about being immersed in nature just brings me back to the furthest stretches of my memories.
In a way, hundreds of trees can mimic an experience or idea that was once my priority in mind.
There's just something so expansive and thought-provoking about being amidst an endless array of wildlife.
I guess I've learned to appreciate the paintings of mother nature's work, from a young age.
Growing up in a rural setting, you learn to appreciate (and respect) your surroundings. You're not going to have a predictable climate every day, so you have to prepare for changes.
Perhaps this sort of preparedness applies to relationships, too. Sometimes, you have to take shelter and weather the storm. Others, you have to board up the windows and leave town...
Whatever mother nature throws my way in the future, I just want to make sure I have the right equipment to handle anything.
With that said, my day has come to an end. Tomorrow, I'll head over to the Yasukuni-jinja Shrine.
Thanks again for all your help and I'll see you soon!