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.
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.
- 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.