Today, I explored a town that has "nothing". I've been staying in Ota, a place no one wants to come out to because there's supposedly "nothing" here. So, I went to see for myself.
After walking for a while, I found a massive complex of shrines and graves at the top of a high hill. The headstones were of the highest craftsmanship, both somber and exquisite. I would have taken a photo, if it wasn't disrespectful.
On the way there, I saw a quiet town. I saw people's day-to-day. I heard conversations between old friends and a few good jokes.
As I ascended a long line stairs built into the hill, it rang out: the deep, powerful sound of what must have been an absolutely massive bell. It shook my bones, so I had to be close. I looked up from my feet, and there I was: close behind a shrine, where a monk was periodically ramming this colossal bell. I stood, frozen in place, for a few moments.
As it turned out, these stairs wouldn't take me to the shrine without making me cut through a cemetery. It felt impolite to use it as a shortcut, so I took the long way around. The bell continued ringing out.
The courtyard, clearly meant to hold thousands of people, had been cleared out by the springtime rain. It was me, the occasional pedestrian passing through on their way home, and the crows. The oddly not afraid of humans, crows. Japanese birds are significantly braver. I think they know that nature is in charge.
I explored the buildings and saw architecture so lovely, it nearly made me cry. I smelled the rain. I stumbled down some gigantic, old brick steps while a toddler behind me made a game of jumping down each step, one at a time, laughing and having the time of his life. I looked at flowers I'd never looked at before and that I might never look at again, at least for a long time. It all felt like magic, under rainfall.
I found a whole lot of "nothing".
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