24&25/6/16. Where to begin? How the hell did that happen? What were people thinking? Were they thinking? What happens now?
Too many questions. Not enough answers.
We are still reeling from the news and trying to come to terms with the consequences. Even Christine’s vocabulary has failed her. She has used the “F word” five times in the last two days which is at least four times more than Stephen can remember her using it in 32 years of marriage.
Being 8 hours ahead of the UK, when we woke the polls had not long closed and the count was under way, but the signs were not good. Christine was immediately following events closely on the BBC while Stephen preferred to wait until the outcome was more definitively known and tried to immerse himself in finishing “Ivanhoe” which he had been reading for a couple of weeks without really getting into it.
After a while, we both tore ourselves away from these things to cycle the 15 km or so into Ise to visit the shrine which attracts more than 8 million visitors each year apparently. It turns out that there is more than one! There are two major sites, one in the town itself and the other further out. On each site there are about 6 individual buildings. In addition there are many other separate shrines dotted around the town and its environs.
We started with the main site in town and were not really sure what to make of it. A new main hall is built every 20 years on the site adjacent to the existing one which is then demolished. The other smaller buildings are also replaced at the same time.
So everything we saw was only 3 years old (the last rebuilding being in 2013). Not surprisingly it looked brand new (it is after all!) and, in fact, had a Scandinavian feel to it. Ask youself what a Danish architect would build if asked to design a Japanese temple.
After looking around Christine felt the need for an update on how results were going and while we were doing this the rain started which kept us under cover for most of the afternoon.
By which time we knew the worst.
We awoke on Saturday to find that, unfortunately, it was not all a horrible dream. We were in the process of packing up when the chap running the site, a very friendly sort, told us the forecast was for heavy rain and strong winds throughout the afternoon. Still shell shocked, we took no persuading to stay another day and for Christine to bring her pill day forward from Sunday to Saturday while we try to get our heads around things.
As we sat around refecting on things in the morning sunshine (!) there was a “bang” and a “whoosh” from the direction of the bikes. It turned out that Christine’s rear tyre had split and the inner tube had burst where it appeared through the hole. As this was the first bit of trouble that either of them have given in 8,000 km of riding in 15 months we are not complaining. Christine is grateful that it didn’t happen while she was on the bike and it makes Stephen feel that having 2 spare tyres in his bags all that time has been justified!