Category: The Long Story

I’d Like To Take You With Me

The following letter goes out to everyone who may want to accompany me on this wonderful journey. I was given a template from a friend of mine who I am forever grateful to. My version of the letter is as follows.

Dear Friends,

This letter details two pieces of news, an offer, a request, and an invitation! I hope it finds you well during these cold winter months. Without further ado!

NEWS ITEM #1:  I’m leaving

I’m leaving my job, and leaving Yamaguchi Prefecture.  After 2 and a half years of working for SES, I will be leaving the company on April 1st, 2011.  I’ve had a wonderful chance to meet so many amazing people. It’s very hard to be packing my bags, getting ready to leave.

However, this doesn’t mean I am leaving Japan. In fact, I’ll be taking a break from work to fulfill a lifelong dream.

NEWS ITEM #2: A three-month pilgrimage

Since coming to Japan, I’ve fallen in love with the culture and history. On April 2nd, 2011, I will venture forth on a journey through the heart of Japan. My route will combine three famous routes into a 2,500 km hike. I will be hiking around the island of Shikoku, visiting the 88 temples of the longest walking pilgrimage in Japan. From there I will trek through the historic roots of Japan on my way to Kyoto. Then I will take an Edo era route, the Nakasendo, through the picturesque mountains of Japan, from Kyoto to Tokyo. After this I will walk the Tokaido route back to Kyoto with a detour in order to climb Mount Fuji.

THE OFFER: Your intentions

This leads me to the offer.  In the old days–just as today–few people could get away for a pilgrimage that would take months.  So, often, a village would get together into a sort of “mutual aid society” and appoint one member to go on the pilgrimage for the group.  He would represent their requests at the shrines and temples along the way.

I would like to do this for you.  If you will send me your intention, I will solemnly promise to present it:

  • at least once a day on the Tokaido and Nakasendo portions of the walk, as well as in front of the Daibutsu (Great Buddha) of Nara; and
  • at every one of the 88 temples on Shikoku, meaning an average of almost twice a day.

What qualifies me to do this?  Well, for one thing, I will be walking, which is a sort of offering of discipline.  I will also be keeping the pilgrims’ vows: becoming vegen, and abstaining from sex won’t be much of a problem.  In addition, I will not drink alcohol during the trek, and I will be endeavoring to control my speech, by not lying, speaking ill of others, and so on.

What sort of intentions can you express?  Traditionally there are two kinds.  The first is a request.  This is where you ask for something–a new job, success on an exam, a wife or husband, health for a loved one, a good school for your child-or non-personal things, such as an end to domestic violence, or for world peace, etc.  The second type of intention is giving thanks for any the above that have already happened, or just simply for the gift of life itself.

With this, I’d like to invite anyone I have the chance to meet in person to sign one of my bandannas. This act further solidifies the connection between your intentions and my journey. If you’re living in America, let me know of your address and I can send a bandanna to you. If you live in Japan, let’s meet up before I leave. At the latest, please come to the party listed at the end of this letter.

Please send me your intention by e-mail to Kris AT krijali.net , and I will present it as faithfully as possible.

THE REQUEST: Your contributions

Let me be perfectly clear: I will present your intention whether you make a contribution or not.

But there is a kind of cosmic principle that says if you are serious about a request or thanksgiving, you will do something to show your sincerity.  One thing you can do is to agree to express the intention YOURSELF for as many days as I do.  Another would be to pray for me as I carry the intentions of many.  And of course another would be to contribute financially to my trip.

Three months is a long time to be “unemployed”-and homeless!  There will be lodging expenses (though I will sleep out as much as possible). I’ll also be creating a documentary for the journey. And of course, a man’s gotta eat!  So your help would be appreciated.

The people in the old days understood this.  The “mutual aid society” was truly mutual: the people who sent the man on the journey paid his way, and often pitched in to help his family while he was gone.

How much should you give?  Anything would be appreciated (and as I said even no contribution is perfectly acceptable).  But as a guideline, I have set up four “circles” where your name can be listed on my website (unless you specify that you wish to be anonymous).  The four circles are:

  • The Intentions Circle: 2400 yen or $24.00 (US) or more, representing the hours of each day; each one of equal importance.
  • The Tokaido Circle: 5300 yen or $53.00 (US) or more, representing the 53 post stations of the Tokaido
  • The Nakasendo Circle: 6900 yen or $69.00 (US) or more, representing the 69 post stations of the Nakasendo
  • The Kobo Daishi Circle: 8800 yen or $88.00 (US) or more, representing the 88 temples of the Shikoku pilgrimage

Please tell me by e-mail the amount you wish to contribute, and I will send you information on how to make your deposit or deliver your donation.

AN INVITATION: A party

Finally: If you are in the Shunan area on Saturday, April 2nd, please come to my send-off party at 1 p.m. in Ryokuchi Park (send for directions).  You’ll have the chance to shave my head, I will don my walking clothes, and I will have my last drink before I hit the road.  That evening, I will travel to Shikoku to begin the journey.

Please:

  • Send your intentions by e-mail to Kris AT krijali.net
  • Let me know if you plan to make a contribution at the same address
  • Come to the party if you can!
  • Check my website frequently: www.project-go.com

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and please keep me in your thoughts.

Namaste,

Kris

プロジェクト ごー!

The following letter goes out to every Japanese person I know who may want to accompany me on this wonderful journey. I was given a template from a friend of mine who I am forever grateful to. My version of the letter is as follows.

皆さん

寒さの続く日々ですが、皆様にはますますご健勝のこととお喜び申し上げます。 この手紙は、大事なお知らせ2つと、ある申し出、お願い、ご招待についての手紙です。じっくり読んでくださればと思います。

お知らせその1:もうすぐいなくなります

仕事を辞め、山口県を後にすることになりました。2年半勤めたSESを4月1日をもって退職します。この2年間半この仕事を通して、たくさんのすばらしい人々との出会いがありました。だから今、荷物をまとめ出て行きがたい状況です。

しかし、日本を去ろうというわけではありません。自分の抱いてきた夢を実現するために一時的な休暇をとるのです。

お知らせその2:3ヶ月間の巡礼

日本に来て以来、日本の文化そして歴史に感銘をうけてきました。2011年4月2日より、日本の中心部を巡る旅にでます。自分の旅路は3つの主な道のりを歩くものです。(合計で2500キロになります)まず、日本で一番古い巡礼とされる四国88のお寺を訪ねて回るものです。そこから、京都に向けて出来る限り古い道をたどって歩きます。宇治、奈良、吉野を通り、高 野山まで歩くことになります。皆さん御存じかと思いますが、高野山は四国巡礼を始めたと伝えられる弘法大師が終焉の地とした所です。そこから、江戸時代からの道である中山道を通り東京まで向かい、そこから東海道を通り、その途中で富士山に登りたいと思います。

申し出:皆さんに代わって祈願をします

ここで、ある申し出についてお話することになります。昔は(今でも同じですが)何ヶ月もかかる巡礼に出られる人はほとんどいませんでした。ですから、よく村全体が「相互扶助協会」といった形で集まり、集団全体のために巡礼にいく人を1人指名しました。その人が、巡礼で訪れる神社やお寺で皆の願いごとを代表で祈願するのです。

これを同じように皆さんにしたいと思っているのです。願いごとを知らせてくだされば、代わって祈願することを堅くお約束します。

ñ 中山道や東海道では少なくとも一日1回(奈良の大仏と高野山の弘法大師でのお祈り含めて)

ñ 四国の88のお寺全部で、つまり平均して一日2回近く

私がこれを行う資格がどこにあるか?というと、まずひとつには、歩くということは、修行という一種の供物をすることになるからです。それに、巡礼者のたてる、誓いも守るつもりです。その間は菜食主義者になりますし、女人禁制はほとんど問題にならないでしょう。さらに、道中はお酒を飲みませんし、嘘をついたり、人の悪口をいったりしない等、話すことについても自制するように努力します。

どんな願いごとができるのか?というと、2通 りの願いごとができます。ひとつは何かの実現を願うもので、転職、試験での成功、結婚、大事な人の健康や子供の入試合格、または個人的な事ではなく、家庭 内暴力がなくなるように、とか世界平和といった事です。もうひとつは、先にあげたようなことが実現したことに対する感謝や、生を受けたこと自体に感謝をさ さげるものです。

これに伴って、出来る限り皆さんに直接会ってバンダナに署名をお願いしたいのです。これは私のたびと皆さんのお願いの繋がりを固めるものになります。アメリカにお住まいの方は、住所を知らせていただければバンダナを郵送します。日本にお住まいの方は、私が出発する前に是非会いましょう。できましたら、手紙の最後に書いてあるパーティーに来ていただければと思います。

ぜひお願いごとをEメールでKris AT krijali.net宛てに送ってください。できるだけ願い事に忠実に、代わって祈願をします。

お願い:貢献をお願いしたいのです

まず、絶対にはっきりさせておきたいことがあります。貢献をしてくださるかどうかに関わらず、願いごとは代わりに祈願します。

と はいえ、もし何かの実現や感謝に真剣な場合は、何かしら誠実さを示す行為をする、というある種普遍的な法則があります。ひとつできることは、私がするのと 同じ日数だけ、自分自身でもその願いごとを念じると約束することです。他にできることは、多くの人の願いごとを背負った私の無事を祈ることです。そしても うひとつは、私の巡礼に経済的な形で貢献をするということです。

3ヶ 月というのは、「無職」、しかもホームレスでいるには長い期間です!宿泊費(できるだけ野宿しますが)もかかります。巡礼が進むにしたがってホームページ も更新するので、インターネットと電話の費用もかかります。それに、食べないわけにもいきません!というわけで、もし援助してくださればありがたいので す。

昔の人達はこの方法に頼っていました。「相互扶助協会」は本当にお互いさまで、巡礼に出る人を送りだす側は旅費を支払い、留守の間その人の家族を助けるためによく協力をしたのです。

どの程度貢献すればいいのか?というと、何でもありがたくお受けします。(先程書いたとおり、まったく寄付をしなくても構いません)。ただ、だいたいの目安として、私のホームページに4つの「サークル」を設定し、それぞれ個人名がリストにあがるようにしました8匿名希望と指定のある場合を除いて)。4つのサークルは

ñ 願い事サークル: 2400円以上、または米ドル以上。これは毎日の時間を象徴したものです。:それぞれが同じくらい大切です。

ñ 東海道サークル:5300円以上、または53米ドル以上。これは東海道五十三次を象徴したものです。

ñ 中山道サークル: 6900円以上、または69米ドル以上。これは中山道六十九次を象徴しています。

ñ 弘法大師サークル:8800円以上、または88米ドル以上。これは四国巡礼の88のお寺を象徴したものです。

ご希望の寄付金額をEメールで教えてくだされば、どのように振り込みをすればいいか、または届けることができるかについて情報をお送りします。

御招待:パーティー

最後になりましたが、4月2日に周南市付近にいらっしゃる方は、ぜひ午後一時緑地公園(SES付近の大きな駐車場があるところ)で行う壮行会に来て下さい。(行き方のわからない人には、説明を送ります。)髪の毛を剃ってもらい、巡礼用の衣服を身につけ、出発前最後の一杯をやります。その晩に四国に向けて出発したいとおもいます。に

ñ 願い事をEメールで Kris AT krijali.net 宛に送って下さい。

ñ 同じEメール・アドレスに寄付して下さる予定かどうか知らせて下さい。

ñ もしできれば、パーティーに来て下さい!

ñ こまめに私のウェブサイトをチェックして下さい。: www.project-go.com

この手紙を読むために貴重な時間をとってくださって、本当にありがとうございます。そして、私のことを心のどこかに留めておいてくださればうれしいです。

Krisより

Where it Stands (with less than 90 days)

My Japanese tests out of the way, the best possible direction to go is onward. However, with that, the time has presented itself to regroup.

Defining core principles every step of the way leads to a better understanding of the journey we find ourselves in every day.

My Headlamp

In less than 90 days, I will hike through the heart of Japan in order to find fulfillment and learn how to support those around me. It would be a farce for me to say this reason is the end all and be all of the journey ahead. In fact, though broad, simplistic, and exacting in theme, this hike represents even more. This hike represents a milestone in my life, my career and my dreams. We all face changes on a daily basis. Truth be told, I’m not the ideal candidate for a multi-month vacation from a steady paycheck. Far from it actually.  Buried in student debt, strapped to an ever-dwindling bank account,  ever-swallowed daily by bills and obligatory requirements, pausing to regroup sounds crazy.  Instead I pause, not while shaking a fist towards the sky, not while applying for yet another credit card, not while driving myself further into seclusion. No. in fact, I pause with excitement, encouragement, and an ecstatic state of mind.

Once again… What’s the point?

To regroup, I spent the last week writing bits of blog posts. To answer this question I’d like to offer up the titles of those upcoming posts. In no particular order, Mount Up!

  • The Cake Fiend of Principles
  • Ice Baths and Convulsions from the Deepest Netherworlds
  • Socrates, The Cave, and The Matrix Effect
  • Man, That Discovery Guy Just Ate a Skunk!
  • The Impossibility of Frodo Baggins And The Importance of Improbable Goals
  • “A Bivy Sack, What the?” or “A Video Guide of Partial Sanity”

Many of these posts will come about in the following weeks. As always, I’m extremely excited to be moving forward on this quest!

The gear, man!! Where is the gear!?

It’s been an exhaustively long time since I’ve updated the world on the gear I’ve purchased for my trip. So without further ado…

“日本の会社ですよ!”

Laughing, beside myself with the irony I found myself in, the Boulder, Colorado Mont-Bell store clerk informed me that I had traveled halfway around the world (from Yamaguchi, Japan to Colorado, USA) to end up in the only North American location of a Japanese owned outdoors store. My quest for equipment and perilous research showed an earnest attempt by the world in teaching me the Campbellian hero’s quest had only just begun.

Needless to say, I decided to avoid paying tariffs on that which I could find locally once I had returned to Japan. Instead, with wonderful side quests accompanied by my family and friends, I ventured to purchase the equipment I wanted from the western world.

Yar!In the end, I went to REI. With the promise of a fiscal year ending dividend and the chance to vote for the board of directors (Read: membership card), I purchased American and European goods. This included:

With that, I had money leftover from the current exchange rate so I went ahead and bought a few goodies from other places:

  • A Boulder, CSolio!olorado Underarmour hat (From a hilarious store on Pearl St. with the most x-rated pasta)
  • A pair of Half Jacket Oakley sunglasses (I went for it in hopes of high quality)

Being a lucky American, I also joyously received equipment from my overly giving parents and siblings. This included:

  • A Survival Kit (Thx Mom!)
  • First Aid stuff! (Thanks everyone!)
  • Mark ‘The Big Fix‘ (Thanks Kelly (my sister), my lips will never go chapped again)
  • A Solio Classic solar charger (Thanks to my parents, I will be able to charge my video camera throughout! Standby for field tests)

It goes without saying how undeserved I am of the ability to receive such awesome gifts alongside the luxury of visiting my family and friends. It was also amazing to have the chance to speak with such knowledgeable folks at the various outdoors stores throughout the Front Range of Colorado. With the help of all of you, I’ve learned that Smartwool socks are the same price wherever you go, and of course, I had the best holiday season yet!

So, Are you still going to do it?

Yes, yes of course.  Though, not without knowing where my towel is.

Who Exactly Am I?

As much of an existential question as that sounds, it comes more from the inverse relationship between how many readers I have on this blog and the amount of people I know in real life. So, to answer the questions upfront and candidly. Here’s the inevitable bio!

For Starters, My Name is Kristopher Littlefield

Having been born in Loveland, Colorado, USA, I have a firm love for nature, altitude, and art. If I could bring anything from my hometown to the rest of the world, it would be the beautiful sculptures littered throughout the city. Throughout my childhood I wrote, directed, and acted in various plays and short films while indulging my love for alternative culture via the awesome sport of Ultimate Frisbee. I went to school in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, where I majored in Film while studying English and Politics on the side. I, then, traveled to New York City where I spent the most thinning four months of unemployment. After deciding a steady stream of income was indeed important, I luckily found a job teaching English in Japan. In August 2010, it will  have been two years since I crossed the largest pond in the world.

A Hike to Change the World

AND I lost that competitionMy reasoning for planning such an audacious trip stems from so many places, of which I’ll be writing about in more detail in the coming weeks. I believe in Socrates’ cave analogy, and with that I think the power of example is one of the most powerful positive influences we can have on the lives of others.

Love of the Far East

I have a subliminal love for Japan. Throughout my life, I’ve had moments of hyper-obsession with Japan. I played a few video games, watched some anime, and indulged in a Japanese Film History class at College. I came to find its differences with the US are both astoundingly large and astonishingly small. And for that, I loved it. Ever since coming here I’ve fallen for it’s language and martial arts (namely Iaido which I would describe as a mix between Yoga and playing with swords).

Language Study as a Metaphor

You know, it’s hard to see where preferences come from. Until relatively recently I hadn’t realized I loved learning languages. In the last ten years, I’ve had introductory courses in German, Spanish, French, Arabic, and American Sign Language. Once I arrived in Japan, I started studying the language and I’ve been enjoying it for over 18 months. I can manage daily conversation, yet I am still a beginner. This language is so difficult, I have had many people (including my first Japanese teacher) tell me it was impossible for foreigners to learn. For someone who runs on challenges, this is the best way to begin a pursuit into understanding a different culture.You should never take yourself too seriously

The Bottom Line

I could go on for hours about myself. Those who know me would say I do it too much as it is. So I’ll end with a seemingly random listing of my various quirks.  I’m left-handed, like 3 of the last 4 presidents of the United States. I have Type 0(+) blood, which in Japan translates to agreeable, sociable, optimistic, vain, and rude. I’m a Virgo (sun), Capricorn (moon), Scorpio (rising) which for the uninformed means I’m perfect, methodical, and wear Movado watches. And most importantly, my kindergartners call me 栗くん(kuri-kun), in English, ‘Chestnut’.