Dusk falls, and as the fireflies begin to blink and dance the stone lanterns lining the path are lit, one by one. The gravel has been swept clean, but the pools of light along the trail also illuminate the verge of the deep forest beyond – pine needles, leaf litter, and mushrooms clumped at the base of trees. Beyond the light the undergrowth is thick and green, and things are stirring out there. The night air is hot and heavy, and the crickets chirp and sing with abandon. At the top of the rise the trail passes a shrine gate flanked by two stone lions, the building beyond an island in the darkness as evening proper descends. We continue on, down a cliffside path to an arching red bridge lightly misted in the spray of the waterfall just upstream. This is the place. We find a comfortable spot to sit, open the bottle of sake, and wait.

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