With reality barely setting in, I am unable to sleep. Wide-awake since 2am, I make my way to the lobby of the Hotel Tappi. For the next five hours I sit alone with a view of Tsugaru Strait while reading and responding to hundreds of emails and Facebook messages from friends, family and colleagues. There is so much to process and I feel completely overwhelmed with emotion.
Watching the sunrise at the same time I jumped in the water to begin my swim yesterday, a different Tsugaru Strait unveils before me. Littered with white caps and massive swells, I estimate the wind is blowing at least 25 knots. The Dragon is not sleeping in this morning. And as I watch the Dragon awake in all his glory I am struck with an awareness of how miraculously the stars aligned yesterday. I firmly believe that I was blessed with a safe passage not only by Captain Mizushima, but also by something greater. And because of this I know there is one more task remaining.
Driving back with my crew to Aomori later that morning, and being more aware of the spiritual aspect of my swim, I ask Tomo about the Japanese name for “God of the Sea.” This God has historically been an integral part of Japanese culture and mythology – particularly in the remote fishing villages. And I feel that he was in many ways a fundamental component of my swim.
Just as the name “Sumiyoshi” leaves Tomo lips, he points to a red gateway across the road. “Wait – I think that is the Shrine of Sumiyoshi right there!!” he exclaims. Looking back to double-check, Tomo shakes his head and laughs with amazement. “I cannot believe it. I think that is Sumiyoshi!” And in that moment, it was like it was meant to be.
Tomo turns the car around and we pull up alongside the red entranceway. Sure enough, the writing at the top of the gate confirms that this is indeed the Shrine of Sumiyoshi. Bowing once before entering underneath the red gateway, we make our way down a long meandering path towards a wooden structure nestled in a cluster of trees.
Now standing before the shrine of Sumiyoshi, I bow twice then clap my hands twice. It was my turn to give thanks.