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Lantern Monuments older than Sweden.

A Swedish guy came to stay at Guest House Ioly Osaka!

He was tall and I had to look up to see his face. He must have been about 200 centimetres tall. He also had long blond hair: we hadn't had European guests in a while.

Studying at a university in Mie, Japan, he's been in Japan for a bit less than a year and he is to go back home in a month. I was a bit surprised to know that there are flights to Sweden despite the Coronavirus pandemic, but it is good that he can go back.

He's always been interested in both Japan and China, even since before he came to Japan, and he majors in Japanese at university in Sweden. He says he's interested in these two countries because both of them have a long history. So I asked him about the history of Sweden, but he only answered by saying the majority of the Swedes pay more attention to new things rather than respecting their history.

Having lived in England and Australia in the past, I thought I could understand what he meant. While Australia was rich with beautiful beaches and unique plants and animals, its history as a country was just about 200 years old, and it's very short compared to that of the UK or Japan. One time, I visited this 'historic' church in Cairns and read the description there to find out that the church was about 150 years old. Well, it is true that a 150-year-old church in a 200-year-old country is regarded old, but if it were in Japan or England, you could add one more zero to it!

The Swedish guy, on the other hand, was once walking to Ise-Jingu Shrine as pilgrimage when he came across these lantern monuments that stood along the way to the shrine. He recognised the year inscribed on the surface of the monuments and was thrilled to know that they were older than Sweden!!

He was also very knowledgeable about some of the samurais, especially Uesugi Kenshin and Takeda Shingen. Which showed how much he liked Japanese history.

Now that his time in Japan was coming to an end, he has been on his Saikoku Pilgrimage. Some people carry a stamp book so they can get the stamp from each temple they visit, but he was carrying a beautiful hanging scroll. This pilgrimage is usually to visit 33 designated temples, but the scroll has some extra parts to be stamped, and they indicate extra temples to visit. Including those extra ones, he is determined to visit all 37 places by the day he has to fly home! Hitting three to four temples each day, he kept travelling in the dog days of the summer.

He was to go home in September. I can't remember exactly when he is flying.

I wonder if he made it to all the places on the pilgrimage.

He said a few times that he'd definitely come back to Japan. He also said he especially liked the Kansai area since it's rich with history.

We promised to meet again, and shook hands.





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