This is part of a series of posts about my thoughts and my experiences through the KOSEN-Joint Polytechnic startup program.

“No joggers allowed.” the security turned me down gently even though I had not set my foot in the grounds surrounding the Meiji Shrine. I think it looks crude on writing but trust me, he was gentle in his voice.

It was 5.40am in the morning, probably 2 to 6 deg Celcius, but it didn’t stop me from putting on just a singlet, a pair of shorts and my running shoes to explore the area around Sangubashi. I can’t seem to fall back into sleep anyway so why not do some jogging ahead of the busy day.

Since I only had time to visit either the Meiji Shrine or the Yoyogi Park (or so I thought), I chose the Meiji Shrine. But I guess jogging was not a suitable thing to do at the scared grounds of the shrine (Damn! I should have known! Why do I even try?) – glad that the security had stopped me, and so I made a U-turn and head for the Yoyogi Park instead..

Sakura… a bit early for the season. But I’m pretty sure these are not plums. They just look more cherry blossomish. Surprised to see one that’s fully bloom that early in the season.

***

7am. Back at the hostel with my travel mates, we realised we had more time on our hands before the morning work began. I suggested to them that we finished our breakfast quickly and hopped over to the Meiji Shrine. So we did:

The shrine grounds was tranquil and serene. I also observed that aside from the tourists (who are far and few), the rest of the few were locals who made the walk to the shrine as part of their daily routine just before work. I believe I saw someone with a small shopping basket and another clad in office wear who prayed at the shrine that morning.

Considering that you would need a good seven minutes walk on the loose-gravel track to reach the shrine itself, which will mean you need another seven minutes out, I must say I’m amazed and admired their devotion.

I thought I’ll pray too. Quite unsure what I wanted to pray for, I prayed for world peace… Cliche it may sounds but important so I thought.

But just before I left the shrine, I realised what I really wanted to pray for.

I hoped to have a chance to work long term in Japan. It could be a one to two year period. At the same time, I couldn’t help but notice that it was a 180 degrees U-turn from the thoughts I had back in 2012.

Soon, my travel mates and I have to leave the shrine for work too. I left with deep thoughts in my mind. Took a bow as I passed under the arch.

I’ll be back.