We’ll Always Have Chiba

Sunday A.M.: First prayers, Buddhist temple, Narita.  Ten monks file in: One in canary yellow, four in purple, two in traffic light green, one in black, one in gold.  Long, slow, dolorous notes on a small drum, a bell, and a single string instrument.

The robed monks hold large shoulder bags on their left side: Two blue, three orange.

Shaved heads.

Everything communicated in silence or musically until huge blasts from a drum on the left that is about eight by eight feet.  Shakes the building.

Followed by chanting: Deep, from below.  Shaking of bells, lots of chanting, lots of commotion, fire, movement, fast drumming.  Now we need wailing guitars.

Ceremony ends almost with a weeping sound.

Next: Slaughter of the unagi.  Heads nailed, skinned alive, blood, wriggling.  Lunch follows.

Ankimo and tuna sashimi; grilled chicken; tonkatsu with salad; unagi and miso and pickled vegetables.  Really delicious.

That night: Poconos style, 260 room resort with splendid baths and a breakfast the next morning that makes me think of hostages released with small children after weeks of captivity.

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