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Parade, Pilgrimage, Passage: Walking on Water From Rijeka to Aomori

Someone asks our Buddhist guide about the Itako, who are the famous mediums who communicate with the dead. It sounds like our guide thinks those are tourist-driven come-ons, and that there may be those who pretend to make contact with the dead relatives in order to make money. Maybe or maybe not. I went to the lake to call out to my dead mother, just in case she might be there wandering about.

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I think we are all very high on the sulfur smells, the Buddhist meal, the lunar-like landscape. No one is moving very fast. Some of us wander to the lake, shimmering in its blue-green salt-thickness with blue and green and misted hills in the distance. It is still with ripples across the water. We are also still, or walking, stopping, looking, sensing. A few women find the hot springs bathhouse: AH! We buy the souvenir keepsake towels, imprinted with the lake, the temple, and mountains, and quickly enter the tiny bathhouse, the room thick with mist from the blue green pools. We strip and wash, and then immerse ourselves into these steaming waters. We hear the bus start up. We hear the calls for everyone on board. We reluctantly scramble back into our clothes but skip lightly into the bus, floating with minerals in the evening light. There is something here that pulls you into this landscape, which seems to float alongside the lake, whispering.

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