Today is the next major holiday of Golden Week. Often referred to as "Constitution Day", it is a holiday created to commemorate a new Constitution being drawn out for the country after WW2.
To atone for wartime atrocities and aggressions, the new foundation sets to promote pacifism and goodwill to its foreign peers.
In addition to adopting this peace harboring mindset, the new Constitution also declares that the sitting Emporer no longer has legislative or executive power within their government.
Similar to the royal family in the UK, the role of the Japanese Emporer is more symbolic, in nature.
If anything, he acts more as a figurehead for the country than a ruling piece of the government nowadays.
With that said, Japan's ruling structure over history has fascinated me and the Shrine I'm visiting today was built to honor another great leader from the past.
The plan for today is to head over to Ueno Park, where a few Shrines can be found around the confines of the area. One, in particular, is on the agenda to check out.
That would be the Ueno Toshugo Shrine. This Shrine was built to honor the late Tokugawa leyasu, who led his Shogunate into revolutionizing Japan during the 16th and 17th centuries.
His influence led to the creation of the "Edo Period" of the country, with said Shrine being built in 1651 to honor him.
Unlike many of its peers from centuries ago, this Shrine is known to have survived many earthquakes, bombing raids, and other disasters to stay intact since its inception.
Aside from a visit to the Shrine, Ueno Park has everything from museums to a full-fledged Zoo within the parameters of the park.
Depending on what's open today, I'll do what I can to see all of those attractions.
Again, the morning drink of choice is a delicious cold brew coffee. I'm spoiled by the vast amount of these things, as my dependence on these machines only grows by the hour.
I really wish this would be a more applicable concept back home, as these serve as the ultimate portable convenience store.
As I board my first metro stop for the day, the swinging melodies playing through my earpods reminisce back to some of my old band days.
Days spent in unfinished, damp basements filled with gear. The wooden texture of our surroundings. Everything about our process just seemed raw and imaginative.
The lack of talent didn't seem to matter, at the time. All that we focused on was what we could create, from the little we played.
The countless hours spent in that subterranean environment birthed riffs that I never imagined would come from my fingers. Everything seemed to flow like a crisp, clean river.
I could tell you so many stories about us doing shows, setting up, or even goofing around on the way to a gig.
Despite the great energy and camaraderie, father time wasn't sympathetic to our chemistry.
As you can imagine, the aging process naturally drifted all of us in different directions. The thing that was once important to us suddenly turned into a feigning interest, for some.
Little by little, our group eroded and the music we conceived started to fall on deaf ears. It felt like part of me gone.
The memories of my musical past carried my conscious all the way to the park.
Amongst the various things to do in this large slice of nature, The Shrine's golden gate peers through the shrubbery of this densely green park and points me in its direction.
Walking around the Shrine, you quickly notice the array of different animals (real and mythological) sculpted along the walls.
From the etched dragons on the entrance gate to the land and sea animals weaving across the side wall (also known as the Sukibei wall).
That's definitely one thing I've noticed, regarded Toshugu Shrines. There's a great emphasis put on animals, and their place in the zeitgeist of this country's history.
It never ceases to amaze me how a structure like this has been able to withstand earthquakes, bombings, tsunami's, and about any other natural disaster you can imagine.
Next to the Shrine is a large garden full of Peony's. As you can imagine, they're well groomed and void of any visitor interference.
In order to stroll through the garden, there's a 700 yen entrance fee. For the sake of killing time, I ended up paying the fee and taking a jaunt through the pristine garden.
The endless rows of flowers beautifully reflect, as it it's re-affirming the country's post war promises.
For a country that spent centuries fighting, conquering, and intimidating its neighbors, it relishes in the peaceful imagery that rose from their war worn soil.
It's almost like this country is a metaphor for the well written anti-hero.
The arduous journey from fierce warrior to kind, peaceful being is an arc that takes hundred of years and many battles to flesh out.
Perhaps it's a reminder to any of us that no matter how fractured someone can become, time and positive energy can eventually heal something.
I think fondly about the times I had with my bandmates and the chemistry that we had. Maybe the same being of time that drove a wedge into us years ago could re-direct us back together.
Creative energy like that should never be wasted and a chemistry like we had has a way of bringing us back together.
With all of this energy in mind, I leave the park and head back to the hotel to channel it into my guitar.
In keeping consistent with our pre-trip promise, I carve out time every week to create new songs to share with you. I didn't care what time of day it was or what else I had to do.
I spent the rest of today crafting something that's coming from my subconscious.
The happy, major intervals sift between my fingers and the fretboard becomes my easel for the evening.
No matter how I feel emotionally, physically, or mentally, I know that I can always fall back on this instrument to re-direct my energy.
I'm happy I brought this guitar with me, as nothing can replicate it's potential for creative output.
As much as I love playing in a group, I can never replace what an individual jam session can do for my soul.
I know that regardless of what I'm going through, I know that I have to endure and the churning melodies produced from my guitar help keep my spirits upright.
If I've learned anything over the years, it's that the best things achieved in life are done with genuine conviction.
While the band I loved didn't work out, I knew that I couldn't let it tamper my love for the art.
The many false starts, bad gigs, underpaid opportunities I had to endure, all emboldened me to get stronger on the instrument. I couldn't let anybody or anything fan my flame of creativity.
If anything, that inertia to create only gains steam.
I'm proud of all of the things I've accomplished, musically, and hope to add to my catalog with these melodies. If these songs can uplift your spirits, then I know I will be onto something.
Anyways, hours of playing in my capsule have passed by and I'm ready for bed. Tomorrow is Green Day, the third official holiday of Golden Week.
I'll head to the first Temple of the week, Zenkoku-Ji in Shinjuku. If I have extra time, I might go back to the Ueno Zoo, as it's free entrance on this holiday.
We'll see where the rhythm of the day takes me (Sorry, couldn't help with that pun ;) )
Thanks and I'll see you soon!