Breaking Ground


March 6, 2024

It was a big day, an important day, and so I chose a tarot card as a meditation, a message to center me for the day. I shuffled the cards and let my hand wander to one. I drew it from the deck, flipped it over, and set it down. A black cloaked figure on a white horse carrying a scythe looked up at me. I drew Death. It’s not the first time I’ve drawn this card when meditating on the salon. And I don’t draw cards often so the recurrence feels significant. Life is cyclical and the message of death is not only of endings but also of new beginnings. And from the start, the path to and through establishing the salon has felt like a rebirth. Much has been shed, much has been buried, and I have emerged embodying a new version of myself. For years I’ve returned to America each summer to reconnect with myself, to refill and fortify myself for the next stint of living in Japan. Launching the salon has been a beautiful journey to finding and feeling myself in Japan. After nearly 20 years of living here, the path forward feels fresh and new and has come with a lightness of spirit that has opened me up to notice magic, to see serendipity, and feel that the universe is guiding me. 

After a year and a half of design work we are about to begin construction on the new building that will house the Mirukashi salon. In preparation, a Shinto priest from Karatsu shrine came to Mirukashi to perform Jichinsai, a ceremony to bless and purify the land. He fashioned an alter under a tent set up within the perimeter of the new building and arranged it with the offerings I had provided. Several varieties of fruit and vegetables along with rice, salt, sake, and snapper were offered to appease the guardian deity of the land. The priest chanted, requesting permission to build, and we each approached the altar to pray. Then I, Hanako, one of our architects Hana, and the contractor all took turns enacting breaking ground.

Serendipity has led the way at every juncture in these days leading up to the groundbreaking ceremony. In Japan people look to the rokuyo calendar of six types of auspicious days on which important rites and ceremonies are held. I asked to choose one of two options. The first conflicted with travel plans so I chose the second, March 6. When I told Hanako the date, she reminded me that it was March 7th of last year that we closed on the land and officially took ownership. These two dates aligning to an exact year apart felt auspicious in itself. But I later learned that the first date proposed had been taian, a day of overall good luck, a day that for many would have been preferred. The date I chose was tomobiki, an auspicious day for calling in friends. And though I didn’t know this until after the ceremony, in retrospect it felt just right. Not only had I felt a special fellowship with the small group assembled that included my architectural team, the contractor’s team, Hanako, and a couple of good friends, but breaking ground on a day dedicating to calling in friends is so aligned with the concept and design of the salon. This building will house an experience built around creating community and connections. The salon is an opportunity for travelers to connect to this region’s community of food growers, producers, cooks, and artisans. And with Mirukashi as our base, our groups bond and become like family over the course of our days together. It’s hard to travel far and feel at home but here in Mirukashi you can do just that. You can experience the exhilaration of being in a very foreign land within the comfort of being hosted and guided and feeling at home. We can’t wait to welcome you.


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