I’m riding a skateboard to Angkor Wat but I stop to say hi to people along the way.
He disappears somewhere and I can’t find him anywhere.
Angkor Wat is one of those places that, despite the constant crowds, has an air of real magic.
And it’s even better if you can have a quiet corner to yourself. A skateboard would be a pathetically inefficient mode of transportation though.
I’m picking flowers from trees and collecting petals to make flowers.
There’s always been something about the silky, thin blossom petals that makes me want to gather up armfuls of fallen petals, cram my pockets full, and carry them home with me.
Our next door neighbors growing up had two cherry trees in their front yard and one year we did just that; scooped them up from the front walk and stuffed the confetti-like petals into a bag. Of course within hours they were a sad, wilted mess, no longer the perfect silk bits they were strewn in drifts on the ground. The ephemerality, of course, being part of the magic, we accepted that our attempts were futile, and never tried to save them again. Still, every once in a while I can’t help but pick up a blossom that’s managed to fall still-whole and perfect and carry it around with me for a bit.
On my way out, I pass by a planter full of Coelogyne in full bloom.
Everyone knows that Coelogynes are a particularly beloved orchid genus of min (how can you pick an absolute favorite though, really?). Not the showiest, most varied, or most colorful genus, there’s still something about the simple and graceful form of Coelogyne that captivates me. So of course I had to get myself one in Japan, thinking that I would build up my collection slowly. I do so miss my Janine Banks, tomii, ochracea, et al. This Coelogyne Cosmo-Crista (Shinjuku No. 8) is quite a pretty, plain-looking little plant that brings me so much joy. While I don’t have the skill yet to grow them to their full glory, inflorescences overflowing their baskets, the dream and its pretty scent sparked my imagination and I set to work on this still life.
I’ve arrived unexpectedly at a shrine with the distinct feeling that I don’t have my 御朱印帳 to get a goshuin. Ah, wait, of course I do.
For just a few coins, many shrines and temples in Japan will stamp special shrine stamp books (goshuinchou), adding the date and some hand-drawn calligraphy, as proof of your visit. Every shrine and temple has its own design, and of course since the calligraphy is written by hand every person writes with their own style. In times bygone, these books served as something like proof of your devotion. When the priest was around, you would get your seal handwritten, but when he was away, you had to make do with a stamp. As the stamps became more beautiful and loved, they combined the stamp and calligraphy into what we see today. It’s certainly the inspiration for the ubiquitous modern day stamp rally, which you can’t escape in Japan. Proper goshuin collecting has exploded in popularity recently, and I’m happy to join the masses of Japanese women lining up for my little memento.
Living in Japan, I went to a LOT of shrines and temples. When there’s another one practically around every corner, it’s hard not to. But I didn’t start collecting shrine stamps until my last couple months and was of course hooked instantly. Not least of all because collecting proof you’ve visited this or that shrine or temple satisfies the collection-oriented mindset that a lifetime of casual RPG-playing has trained me for. I’m no completionist, but I do love the thrill of collecting. I won’t even admit to you how many books I’ve already filled. Forget taking a selfie or checking in on social media, it’s really all about #goshuinoritdidnthappen.