I was talking to this guy the other day while I was waiting for the bus. I was going out to this local festival that being held in the next town over. In my local neck of the woods, all the little hamlets have their own local festivals, which they usually have around the fall, which is traditionally the harvest time.
Usually the local festivals have some sort of tradition which centers around the local Shinto shrine, which in turn is based on whatever gods they worship in the area. I’m not sure how it works out, but it seems to be a little bit similar, at least in structure to the patron saint system of the Catholic Church.
The Church has different patron saints for different vocations, or travelers, or people that are sick. Pretty much anything you can think of, you can safely assume that you’ll find a waiting patron saint to hand deliver your prayers to the Big Guy (Or Gal) upstairs.
One of the frequent complaints about Catholics from non-catholic Christians is that they pray to saints, or pray to Mary. What is really going on is they are literally asking Mary or the saint in question to put in a good word for them up the chain of command.
I don’t think whatever org chart they have in the Shinto tradition compares as far as levels of authority and command. I think maybe that each particular deity is pretty much a free agent. But I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong before.
So this guy was telling me about his daughter, who is taking entrance exams for high school. Private high schools are plentiful here, and there is a great deal of status on getting into the right high school. So the poor kids in junior high school have to start studying and hitting the books if they ever have a chance. Or at least that’s the way it seems.
It’s amazing when you can step outside of something you are familiar with, like your own culture and see how many similarities there are when you are looking from the outside in. I guess it all depends on how you sort things.
There is a meta-program called similarities-differences. This says there is one important filter that people carry around with them, and they are either looking for similarities, or looking for differences. Like when you see somebody preparing for something important, you can find similarities in their methods. Even if the thing they are preparing for is something completely different than anything they’ve ever experienced, you can look at their strategy and learn from it.
It’s always interesting when you look at things with a curiosity to find ways you can apply whatever you see to your own life. I heard a myth/rumor/urband legend about the origins of Kung fu. Some soldier was watching a preying mantic, and developed a whole new fighting style from it. Not likely true, but it’s a great example from being extremely flexible in who you can learn from.
So when this girl gets into the high school she wants to get into, her dad told me that she wants to get good enough grades to get into a good engineering school in Tokyo.
And I’m not sure how many deities they had at that festival, but the food sure was tasty. That’s probably my favorite part about going to local festivals, is they have some really good locally grown, and locally prepared food that you just can’t get anywhere else.