Yesterday's showers linger into this sticky, May morning. The residual dew from the precipitation only accentuates the sweat enabling humidity.
This is an unusual morning climate, as these conditions tend to appear closer to July.
I don't know how much rain they received yesterday morning, but the remaining residue of that weather is leaving a muggy impression on my body this morning.
As for today's activity, I'm heading over to the Chiyoda ward and checking out the Yasukuni Shrine.
I've heard that there's been some controversy around this Shrine's use, in recent years, so I'm eager to learn more.
Because of the flop sweat level of humidity this morning, I called an audible from my regular coffee selection and opted for a bottle of "energy-water".
The electrolyte-filled, bubbling drink was calling my taste buds like a mother yelling for kids to come home for supper.
As someone that's used to sticky summer heat, I couldn't believe how dehydrated I felt from this current climate.
With a few massive sips consumed, I tuck my bottle of energy water aside and map out my subway route to the Shrine. It looks like I can stay on the same line, so the trip should be seamless.
I eventually made my way to the nearest station and boarded en route to Yasukuni. In the few moments I had to myself on the subway, I began to ponder what's so controversial about this Shrine.
Perhaps part of the friction lies within the background of Shinto beliefs. Here in Japan, Shinto is a religion that accepts the presents of a Kami, "God", but accepts it in various forms.
From what I understand, Shinto is based on the idea of purity and humans doing their best to retain their version of that.
I'm sure there are many tenets of this belief system that I'm missing from my puzzle of understanding but hopefully my visit to Yasukuni today will help fill in some of the pieces.
My select moments of pondering seem to have passed the time by, as we have arrived at the nearest station to the Shrine.
As I walk up to the entrance, it's clear that there's a different vibe to this place. Unlike other Shrines, this location just has a sullen, tense aura around it.
Next to the Shrine is a museum, which I decided to look at first.
Within minutes of walking through the cold, quiet hallways, it became clear why this Shrine is embroiled in controversy.
Back in 1869, this Shrine was constructed by the late Emperor Meiji. It was built to remember the fallen soldiers and civilians that lost their lives in prior military engagements.
Everything from feudal battles to international conflicts was remembered on this hallowed ground. The idea of a memorial for fallen citizens is awesome.
The problem is, the country has included every person who has fallen in a previous conflict (which includes war criminals).
In a moment of lapsed judgement, the country has placed names of "Class-A" war criminals among the remembered.
These people were tried (and convicted) for violating agreements made by the country after WW2.
To some around the globe, this signified that Japan hadn't gotten over its aggressive, stubborn fighting tactics.
To add to the flame of controversy is a slew of politicians (including a Prime Minister) who have visited the shrine and offered their condolences,
despite drawing the ire from their Asian neighbors.
The original intention of the Shrine was to remember who the country lost, not to remember soldiers who helped provoke tensions across the continent.
For that reason, many people across Asia (Japan included) have long since denounced the Shrine as being somewhat tainted and off-putting to foreign visitors.
Emperor Meiji hoped that this Shrine would help the country remember what they had to lose, to become what they are today.
It's up to the citizens today to preserve that philosophy and not let bureaucratic posturing dissolve the Shrine, or its relationships with its neighbors (in the process).
In an odd parallel, a missed opportunity of my own could draw some lessons from this mishap.
I was at the top of my game, as a writer. Being able to write for a well-known publication, getting acknowledged for my brightest work.
I had appreciation from readers and my fellow staff members, alike. Some of the opportunities I received from that platform were priceless.
Unfortunately, changes at the publication led to a communication breakdown in which I couldn't articulate.
What started as an interview piece for a "feel good" story turned into a mishap that led to me not being able to write there, anymore.
The biggest change was at the top, where the new leader was not personable and rigid in their conduct. My job was to interview the person and put their words onto a document.
This new leader assumed I would do everything to publish the article, which was not my job.
One thing led to another and before you know it, a position I had earned just evaporated.
Perhaps there was nothing I could have done to change my trajectory, as the editor clearly had his motives.
I can't help but think how I could have made amends to re-work the story and keep that amazing opportunity. It taught me two great lessons.
Always find the context of the situation you're in.
Never let good talent go to waste.
I try to be personable to every one I meet. That includes being sympathetic to their path and understanding of their current plight.
This situation was a good reminder of how not to treat your peers and how I need to keep elevating my talent, even when the platform isn't there.
As cliche as it sounds, I do believe that a big part of being successful in anything is being prepared, when the opportunity presents itself.
I made the most of that publication and it will help prepare me for the next great chance that comes my way.
The humidity begins to wane and as the sun slowly sets on this day, I find myself back in my pod, trying to soak up as much of the A/C as possible.
While I tinker with the radio like knobs on this ancient unit, various thoughts about past, present, and future opportunities race around my mind.
Eventually, my fingers give in and I'm forced to type my thoughts out. Like a firefly in the drifting night sky, I had to capture this thought and stare upon its light for inspiration.
I won't say what the idea was or what it will lead me, but let's just say, I hope this seed has signs of sprouting by the time I see you.
Tomorrow, I'm heading to Kanda Myojin Shrine. This Shrine is close to arguably my favorite part of Tokyo, the electric tinged neighborhood of Akihabara.
Hopefully some arcades are still open, despite week long festivities taking the forefront around here.
Thanks again for all of your help and I'll see you soon!