As the old year draws to a close (and we say good riddance to all that was disappointing and discouraging), and a new year is about to begin (along with the ever-springing hope that it will be better than the last), I find myself thinking about this odd little booth that sits in a quiet corner of Gokoku-ji Temple in Tokyo.
It’s a shrine to the saint who promises to grant any wish that’s only one word long.
Go ahead. Put a ¥100 coin in the box. Light a candle. Try to capture your heart’s desire in a single word.
It’s surprisingly hard!
Let’s say, for example, you want to wish for the perfect partner. “Lover” or “Partner” seems like a no-brainer, right? But think how many ways that could go wrong, if the gods are feeling perverse!
The truth is, I haven’t been able to think of a single wish that could only be granted the way I hoped, except for ones that benefit the entire world, not just me.
And perhaps therein lies the message, don’t you think?
This isn’t the first time I’ve been trolled by a saint, but it’s a damn good one, don’t you think?
The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for
Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon
“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist
Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly e-magazine Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had