Itsukushima  Shrine  in  Hamada

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Itsukushima Shrine and Matsubara Bay

What comes to my mind while I hear the 2nd movement of Sibeliusf
3rd symphony is the dimly lit Itsukushima Shrine in Hamada City.
The Shrine stands on a small hill overlooking Matsubara Bay, which
once upon a time thrived as a major trading port of Japan, enjoying
its natural shape of a deeply intricate inlet, for the trade between
Japan and China, Korea, or other south-east-Asian countries. Now it
remains as a rustic piscatorial port. At night one can see the light
of a few fishing boats offshore; except for that, there is only a dark

Plodding along the shore

There is a long concrete seawall about a meter in height around
the bay separating a few tens of rather shabby houses from the water.
Between the wall and the houses, there is a narrow space less than a
meter in width on which you may plod. If you are lucky, you may come
across a few stray cats. The cats are not necessarily ownerless. They
do not belong to a particular house, but people feed them outside the
house. Some of them are friendly enough, so you can enjoy stroking them. 

Old prosperity   

The Bay area, at first glance, is nothing but a simple small rural
village. But you feel a sense of nostalgia for the old days of prosperity
soaked in the land as well as in the depth of the water. You may even have
an auditory hallucination of the sound of the Shamisen, a musical instrument
used by Geisha girls at a feast, every here and there.

Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima

             Dedicated to the marine God, an Itsukushima Shrine is found
in many seaside towns, the most famous one being the one at Itsukushima
Island in Hiroshima, a world heritage.

Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima

Association of a Mermaid

The Shrine in Hamada is small, maybe smaller than 10 m square. At night
the Shrine is lit with exotic lanterns, looking like those of Chinese or
south-east-Asian make. Looking it up from the seashore, visible from place
to place through the bush around it, you feel a sense of sadness, exoticism,
history, and strange enough, energy and hope toward the future. It reminds
us of such disconnected objects, presumably related to a Scandinavian fairy
tale which I read as a child, as red candles, a mermaid, and old temple, a
sea, lanterns, a small piscatorial village, fishing boats, and so on.

              Sibeliusf 3rd symphony, much simpler and milder than the
preceding ones, reminds me of the dimly lit Shrine standing on a hill
overlooking the dark bay.


                                                       Matsubara Bay