Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Friday, July 21, 2006

High Water

When something broke the surface
Just to see the starry dome-
We still feel that relation
When the water takes us home
In the flying spray of the ocean
The water takes you home-

- Rush, "High Water" (from Hold Your Fire)

Water has held a special significance throughout history and through different cultures. In the Judeo-Christo-Islamic creation story God starts with the seas and then goes on to add the firmament which later becomes dry land. He then decides to wipe out said creation and start over by means of a great flood. In Christianity, one of the important sacrements is baptism, the ritual washing away of one's sins with water. One of the key symbols in Buddhism is the lotus flower, which emerges from a muddy pond bottom, floats above the surface of the water, blooms into a lovely blossom, and then sinks back into the water and returns to the mud to repeat the cycle of life. The ancient Celts believed that every body of water was inhabited by a goddess (possibly the source of the Lady of the Lake in the King Arthur legends) and a source of spiritual power. Japanese Shinto tradition also believes in the spiritual power of water, particularly if it emerges from a spring. The Japanese also envision the border between the "real" world and the afterlife as a river, the crossing of which represents the final break with life. One could draw an obvious parallel with the River Styx in Greek (Roman) mythology, across which Hermes (Charon)(i.e. "Death") ferries the souls of the departed. Clearly water is a powerful symbol of both life and death.

A picture from FH2o's "Kuching Kayaking" site.

Water also means different things to different people in modern times. For Malaysian architect, blogger, and increasingly-famous kayaker "Unker" FH2o water is not just a symbol of life, it is a way of life, and it is something that clearly holds very deep significance to him. It is also clearly very meaningful to Malaysian professor living in Japan Lrong, who is quite proud of the decorative pond he has recently created on his property and stocked with goldfish (and pit vipers?). On the other hand, in her blog post about her recent trip to the Wallowa Mountains and Hells Canyon, my longtime pal Kami says:
"I have this thing about water. I love it, but I don't trust it. I respect that which can deal me death quite easily in a moment even when I'm being careful."

A scene from Kami's Nanopubye blogsite.

Meanwhile, Tunisian-living-in-America Leilouta just posted a couple of pictures of crystallized water (i.e. snow) on her blog in order to help us live through the summer heat, while young Palestinian poet, philosopher, political activist, and world traveler Saba posted not so long ago (the last we've heard from her...meaning she's probably in the West Bank now) on the new blog she's sharing with a couple of Israelis talking about her recent experience sunbathing at the beach in Aqaba, Jordan and watching American warships anchoring right off the coast...together with one ship flying an Israeli flag. (Funny...Iraq isn't even anywhere near Aqaba!)

Water as a source of life or doom...

Pandabonium, meanwhile, speaks of rainy days, and with good reason. The tsuyu, or "plum rain" season has lasted well beyond its normal three weeks this year. It has also been unusually violent. The trip to Kamogawa Sea World with my kids took place on the first sunny day we'd had in a long time, and it was followed immediately by almost a full week of hard, driving rain. My area hasn't suffered so much, but down in the Japan Alps region, particularly in Nagano Prefecture, there has already been a considerable toll in lives and property. These unusually long, hard monsoon rains seem intent to baptize the country by washing it away completely! If a river really is the border between the worlds of the living and the dead here, well, it has probably overflowed its banks together with a lot of others! I just hope it winds down and becomes real summer soon!

Of course, I don't personally have too much reason to complain. In just four more days I'll be flying high over the water...on my way Down Under! I'm counting the days!

Stay cool and dry, everyone, unless you intend to get wet! :-)


  • Water...

    I had an ex-boss who just loves water... she believes that water brings her luck..

    By Blogger Selba, at 1:32 AM  

  • i love the rain. it is so soothing to my soul. and snow is almost magical to me. i love to fish and swim and just be near water. it's a beautiful thing.

    By Blogger mae mae, at 11:12 AM  

  • i love water but i also fear it.

    i also love the rain and miss it terribly. i only wish we had thunderstorms here. i'd love to hear the lightening crack outside, see dark clouds and have it rain for days.

    i hope the mansoon stops soon in your part of the world. but, like you, i believe it's God's way of baptizing the land and making it new again.

    By Blogger tooners, at 3:34 PM  

  • What do you mean, flying Down Under? Are you coming to Australia? Well, if you are in Geelong, then call in.
    I liked your posting about water. How about one on fire?

    By Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog, at 9:56 AM  

  • And water may be a good part of the reason Israel has attacked Lebanon. They have been arguing over Lebanon's plan to take water from the Wazzani Springs, three miles north of the Israeli border. The springs feed the Hasbani River, a tributary of the Jordan River, which is a major source of Israel's fresh water.

    Wow. Down under. I am so envious. Have a great trip. It's a long flight so be sure to bring plenty of....water!

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 3:55 PM  

  • Thanks for your comments, everybody!

    Wendy, in a couple of days I'm off to Australia with 19 students (from 20 since one of them just caught pneumonia...poor girl!) and three Japanese teachers in what is our first student exchange visit to our new sister school. Our sister school is in the Sunshine Coast region north of Brisbane, so that's where we'll be for most of the trip, but we're also planning on spending the last few days in Sydney.

    It'll be my second visit to Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, since I went there last year for our first "courtesy call" to our sister school. It'll be my first visit to Sydney, however. I'm sorry to say that I won't be going down to your part of the least not this time. (I've actually always wanted to visit Melbourne...)

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 11:47 PM  

  • Enjoy your trip down-under.

    Perhaps you can try your hand in kayaking whilst in Brisbane. As a student I had driven from Sydney to Brisbane and back ... in a old Mini Clubman!

    You're gonna love both cities. Wishing you and the students a Wonderful Trip!

    By Blogger FH2O, at 9:54 AM  

  • Sunshine Coast bound? I am so envious...

    By Blogger Lrong, at 1:58 PM  

  • Wishing you have a save fly high over the water/ocean and won't have so much trouble brings to you during the trip!

    By Anonymous L.C_D, at 9:28 PM  

  • This is probably not the place to bring up the relationship between water and mosquitoes.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 10:53 PM  

  • Eep! I'll have to read this properly and comment next week when I return from Italy, by which time you will be in Oz.
    Got an interview tomorrow and am past my bedtime :(

    Bon Voyage!

    By Blogger Olivia, at 8:44 AM  

  • without water we would not have beer

    without beer would not have pizza

    water must be a good thing

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:48 AM  

  • I would have to disagree with the last post that water is good because you make beer with it.

    With out water, we would not have life, and life is precious, so therefore water must be precious also.

    We polute far too much of it for my tastes.

    By Anonymous love, at 10:39 AM  

  • Say hello to my dingo cousins down there. Water is very useful. I use it to leave "messages" all around the neighborhood. :oP

    By Blogger Momo the Wonder Dog, at 5:24 PM  

  • That's beautiful picture of surf at the top of the post by the way.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 5:55 PM  

  • Kuching Kayaking?

    F!@#ing Kayaking!

    (what am I like 12?)

    uyalz - Something a southerner might shout to get the attention of a large group of people.

    By Blogger DewKid, at 10:01 AM  

  • hey moody, are you back yet? from down under? i'd love to see them wonderful pictures! i bet you'd have loads of fun!

    can't wait.

    By Blogger agus, at 3:01 PM  

  • Hello, everybody!

    I'm baaaaaaaaaaaack!!!!!

    (Don't everybody cheer at once, now...)

    Speaking of water, it seems like almost all of Australia with the noted exception of the Sunshine Coast region (where our sister school is located) is having a terrible drought. Brisbane in particular is having the worst water shortage in over 100 years, and several creeks have been dried up for two to three years now. While I was there they actually had a vote in Brisbane to decide whether or not to start recycling sewage into drinking water. I don't know what the result was, but that's how desperate they're getting.

    Wouldn't you know it; it actually rained in Brisbane the day we arrived, and when the weekend came round we actually got poured on, which screwed up our schedule a bit but was still nowhere near enough for Brisbane. Where we were in Caloundra, however, there is plenty of water even though it's only an hour north of Brisbane.

    I'll start posting pics and tales of my travels soon. I took over 500 pictures while I was there (new Memory Stick Pro) plus another several hundred I'm receiving from my colleagues that came with me. selecting will take time...and tomorrow I'm off to music training camp for a few days.

    (I know...excuses excuses...)

    I promise I'll start posting as soon as I'm able!

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 8:44 PM  

  • You got to go to Australia? I am officially jealous!

    As for water rights (fights), wasn't it Ecuador which over-turned its government based on poorly phrased water deals? I think India has some laws circulating over water rights, too. This is gonna be big in the coming years. So soon we'll have wars over water, just like Kevin Costner foretold....

    By Blogger Seymour, at 6:04 PM  

  • All that sea and not enough water.

    In London, even in June we needed 3 straight weeks of rain to even reach our determined need.
    Since then it has drizzled twice, and we've had a heatwave.

    There was talk of tugging over an iceberg...

    Why don't we do like the Arabian Gulf countries and build seawater purification plants???

    By Blogger Olivia, at 11:27 PM  

  • Even Malaysia and Singapore are negotiating about water, among other stuff.

    MM, welcome back! I'm sure you had fun, lots of it.

    By Blogger Happysurfer, at 4:36 PM  

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