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The One Word Saint

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?

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Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

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