In less than 2 months, I will hike through Japan to prove the possibility of such an adventure. I will be hiking on a well-known pilgrimage as well as two historic routes. As self-explanatory as the 88 temples of shikoku may be, the two historic roads require further explanation.
“History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” – Mark Twain
As a student of history, I feel the importance of events in our recent past further extend our ability to predict events in the future. I’m not proclaiming the often versed, “History repeats itself.” For I don’t believe such things. Instead, I believe a study of history should mimic the study of a psychological profile. Just as people tend to waiver between sorrow and happiness, so do we all – as a society.
As a quick disclaimer; I am, by no means, an expert on history. I’m merely an amateur enthusiast.
The Forest Men
When I was a child, I had access to an awesome set of legos. Specifically, I was obsessed with these forest lego-men. I would spend hours creating a society of forest people. At first, the most decorated lego-man was the king of the tribe. I developed his leadership qualities (that gained him such a position), but over time this started to seem unfair and tiresome when I had to come up with more reasons for why he should have more power than the others. From there, I made all of them equal members. As a kind of faux direct democracy, they made every decision together. Being a child, I was exhausted by having to juggle so many opinions and eventually fell back on my King Kris. (Yes… yes, I appointed myself king).
Now, as an adult (well, overgrown child – per se), I cycle through these principles with any game I play. Each time, I inch closer to a better approximation of the ideal leader paired with a fair representation of those within the group. By no means am I the one who came up with these ideas, but I am one of the many who repeat such a process on a regular basis. Some kids play house, some play war, I played leadership.
I’ll go out on a limb and say that I believe this cycle bears resemblance to the cycle of history. We tend to see themes that run through any time period. Each time a theme runs it’s course, it’s modified and perfected for the next era.
History, Rinse and Repeat
It’s no hidden thing that I love history. In fact, I make that boring quality known quite often. I’ve chosen to walk on two historic roads for the purpose of experiencing that cycle. That cycle I wish to walk is the cycle of geographic, societal, and emotional transition. Now for a little history (bear with me).
The roads I will be walking, the Nakasendo (Mountain Route) and the Tokaido (Eastern Sea Route) were the two roads connecting Kyoto and Tokyo during the last feudal era in Japan. These roads were created and regulated with the purpose of spreading the control of the Shogun (the feudal king) throughout the country of Japan. By controlling the path traveled, they had a better chance to extend their power outward. These roads were used by everyone from lords (whom were required to leave their families in the main capitol city), to merchants, to wanderers. This narrowing of routes gave the Shogun an easier to manage system of travel, and a firmer grasp on the civilization. What I’m most interested in, though, are those who traveled on this path. Those are the footsteps I will be walking in. From politicians, to concubines, I want to feel the routes they walked on, connecting the two hearts of this land.
The Footsteps of Transition
With that, I will be following in the footsteps of many from all walks of life. I’m extremely excited to do so, and I wish to make that transition to see into the eyes of those who came before me. I wish to learn from the previous cycle to become better informed about the cycle ahead.