Sunday Evening Reflection: Kamui Mintara Playground of the Gods

Playground of the Gods

Kamui Mintara (Playground of the Gods), situated on the slopes of Burnaby Mountain Park, a few steps away from the Simon Fraser University campus, was a gift to the City of Burnaby from its Japanese twin City of Kushiro.

There is a gentle reverence that pervades the pristine parkland that overlooks the city of Vancouver, reaching out towards the sea. This is a sacred place for it speaks of the mythology of the Ainu people, a culture closely connected to the water.

This sculpture in wood was created by Nuburi Toko, a renowned sculptor of the Ainu people. The Ainu are an Indigenous population that make their home on the island of Hokkaidō, Japan. In the past, they lived in areas of northeastern Honshu and the Russian Islands of Sakhalin and Kuril.

These carved columns are directly inspired by Northwest Coast totem poles, while the location and title of this sculpture are a reference Mount Daisetsu in Daisetsuzan National park near the centre of Hokkaidō. Admired for their height, beauty, and remoteness, the Ainu refer to this cluster of volcanic peaks as Kamui mintara (The playground of the gods).

Simon Fraser University

I invite you to walk with me through the Playground to the Gods.

60 Thoughts

  1. I adore the serenity of this post, Becky, thank you. Your Sunday evening is my Monday morning. It is always such a treat to float in to my week with one of your lovely mediations. How amazing to think of the connections here between Japan and Canada. And what a magnificent tribute to the Ainu peoples. Wishing you peace and good health dear friend xxx

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    1. Thank you, Liz for your lovely comments. We live in a world where connections are deeply embedded in our mythologies. I think of that marvelous quote by J.R.R. Tolkien: “After all, I believe that legends and myths are largely made of ‘truth’, and indeed present aspects of it that can only be received in this mode; and long ago certain truths and modes of this kind were discovered and must always reappear.” By the way, did you recommend the “The Light-Keeper’s Daughters” by Jean E Pendziwol? I think you did. I just read it and enjoyed it immensely. Happy Monday. It’s a new week waiting for us. Thanks for leading the way…

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    1. Thank you, Cindy! I hope that you were able to see this when you were in Vancouver a few years ago. It is hard to see everything in a few days. I have lived in Vancouver for many years but just discovered Playground of the Gods a few years ago. I am enjoying playing “tourist” in my city these past months! Hugs and more hugs!

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  2. This is a fascinating reflection, Rebecca; especially the connection with Hokkaido. Our stay in Hokkaido was unfortunately too short to explore the island’s history and the Ainu people, but thanks to your beautiful post I now know at least a bit more. Have a happy week, sending hugs to you and Don 🤗🤗🤗

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    1. I was thinking of you especially given your recent adventures in Hokkaido. I have only recently learned about the Ainu. I think I mispronounced “Ainu.” YIKES! I was especially interested in how the artist integrated the West Coast totem poles to create this magnificent sculpture. I understand that the woodcarver, Nuburi Toko is from Kushiro. He visited Vancouver in 1985 as part of a delegation and was inspired by the location, mountains, and oceans. Burnaby city council was delighted by the idea. Nuburi and his son, Shusei, and Burnaby’s carpenter, Phil MacGregor started the work in the fall of 1989. The sculpture was unveiled in 1990 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the friendship between Burnaby and Kushiro. Hard to believe that 20 years have passed since that time… Sending hugs back with all speed.

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      1. Yes, I loved that the sculptures were like totem poles. The sculptures are so beautiful! I did notice in Hokkaido that the bear and the fish (or bear with a fish) are important symbols for Hokkaido. It’s wonderful that you have a little piece of Ainu culture in Canada.

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    1. Thank you so much for your presence and our comments. I am delighted that you enjoyed this place. We had planned a huge trip to England/Scotland for this past August/September. Alas, it was not to be. In the meantime, I am learning that I had forgotten to “travel” in my city of Vancouver. Thank you for joining the tour. I enjoy following your posts and looking forward to our ongoing conversation.

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  3. Oh this is lovely. What a wonderful gift for the people of Canada to enjoy. And yes I did feel the wind and imagine the gods when i listened to your lovely voice interlaced with the music.

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    1. Oh, Shehanne, I knew you would love this place, which is only a few minutes away from Simon Fraser University where the SFU Pipe Band practices for the Worlds Championship that is held in Glasgow. You see, we have a little bit of Scotland on our side of the world. It gives me a wonderful feeling knowing that we are all connected. I love the sense of belonging. Sending many hugs your way.

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  4. Dear Rebeca,
    thank you very much for sharing.
    We like this clear design of the playground of the gods. We are sure, the gods love to play there.
    We send you warm greetings and big hugs from the cold sea
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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    1. I share that thought! There is a stark simplicity that brings my eyes first to the horizon, the ocean and finally to the sky. Thank you for your presence – very much appreciated. Hugs!

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    1. Thank you, Dave. I especially appreciated your words “your take on its history and meaning.” That goes to the heart of belief and cultural values within each of us. I think Joseph Campbell says it better than I could: “We need myths that will identify the individual not with his local group but with the planet.” Every time that I visit the Playground of the Gods, I notice that whoever is there has a respect for this sacred space. It is as if we intuitively recognize and respond to something that is beyond words. For me, it feels like I’m in sync and an active participant in the story of humanity. Many thanks for joining me….

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  5. What a beautiful space near the water, under the wide sky! I’m always somewhat sad when I see these ‘museums’ of indigenous peoples, whose populations were decimated. However, if it weren’t for these beautiful artistic memorials, some people would never know they existed and still exist today. The Ainu language is virtually extinct, although the people survive in Japan. When indigenous languages disappear, it’s poignant and reassuring to know their culture remains. Such a peaceful video, a fitting reflection to begin our week together. You have such a reassuring way of embracing the positive and keeping to ‘bring the beauty.’ 🙂 Thank you with hugs…

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    1. I agree wholeheartedly – there is a sadness for the loss of indigenous populations and their languages for when one is gone, we all suffer. Art, poetry, dance, writing, storytelling – and all creative endeavours are key to safeguarding these precious cultures. So glad that we walked together in the Playground of the Gods.

      I was heartened that the UN designated 2019 the Year of Indigenous Languages.

      “It is through language that we communicate with the world, define our identity, express our history and culture, learn, defend our human rights and participate in all aspects of society, to name but a few. Through language, people preserve their community’s history, customs and traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking, meaning and expression. They also use it to construct their future.Language is pivotal in the areas of human rights protection, good governance, peace building, reconciliation, and sustainable development.”https://en.iyil2019.org/
      Hugs and more hugs!!!

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    1. Thank you for beginning a new week of possibilities with me. I am finding that being a “tourist” in my hometown, has opened my eyes to what I have taken for granted. As T.S. Eliot said: “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” Sending hugs to you and Vivian.

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    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed our walk together. Paul. There is a marvelous feeling of embracing the mythologies of the past – it is as if we have an innate recognition and understanding. Interesting that there is a clear and deep connection with the earth. Take care!!

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  6. I would also like to thank you dear Rebecca for this post about the Playground of the Gods, where mankind also seems to be welcome! I had never heard about the Ainu people and enjoyed this information. 🙂 Very best regards Martina

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    1. I am so glad you joined me, Martina! I had never heard about the Ainu before I came to this place. I am uncertain whether I pronounced the name “Ainu” correctly. The idea of sacred places are of great interest to me for they seem to be an unifying force. Have a wonderful day – thank you for adding joy to my day.

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    1. Jean-Jacques – when I was creating this video, I had your poetry book, Kaleidoscope, close by. For some reason, I opened it up and came upon your poem “Another Place – a state of mind -“. I had goosebumps when I read your words as it was exactly the feeling that came when I walked through the Playground of the Gods.

      “In time I’ll reach
      Another place,
      But for the while
      I reason find
      A musing space,
      Where vibrant minds
      Thus so feeds mine,
      Proclivity holds
      Sufficiently to bind,
      Until we so attain
      A state of mind,
      To be sustained
      Held in other place!”

      Thanks for joining me on Burnaby Mountain!!!

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  7. Thank you for this beautiful video and your words about this lovely place on Burnaby Mountain close to SFU. I enjoyed your careful photos of the artistic story “Playground of the Gods” that tell an unusual story.
    There is a lot of history here, as well. Thank you for introducing this beautiful place and so close to where we live!!.

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    1. I am so glad that you enjoyed this post and video. I agree – so much history and many stories. The Playground of the Gods reminds me that while we can only live in our time, art bestows the gifts of the past. May we create and inspire new generations that follow us.

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  8. Oh, marvelous! Rebecca, the photos and reading about this place gave me goosebumps! There’s a chord here, whose resonance I don’t have time to follow right now. I want to come back and explore every rock and stick. But right now, time for therapy. Hugs on the wing!

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    1. Dear Marina – how lovely to receive your heartwarming comments. I have always been fascinated by mythology ever since I was introduced to Greek Mythology as as child. I just finished a marvelous book – Circe by Madeline Miller – that brought back all those wonderful moments reading the stories of Zeus and his team of gods. Hugs and more hugs coming your way.

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    1. Thank you, Meg! I love visiting the Playground of the Gods. There is a sense of history and destiny that comes together in sacred places. I am grateful that you joined me. Have a wonderful day.

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  9. Absolutely delightful, Rebecca. Your narration and the story itself was so heart warming.
    We here in Australia have a number of sister cities in Japan. I feel so honoured that I got to visit Tokyo and a number of wonderful cities and destinations whilst there. Mount Fuji was one delight I remember. The bus ride, the people, the sense of modesty and humility of the Japanese; so many wonderful memories.
    The sense of peace in The Playground of the Gods was tangible. Perhaps it was your presentation, the music, the calm you evoked. And yet, I do sense that the energy created in that spiritual place would be felt by most everyone.

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    1. How wonderful to be able to see Mount Fuji. I have goosebumps just thinking about it. We live in a world of speed and complexity. Isn’t it wonderful that was have places that remind us that love, kindness overcome fear and uncertainty. I am so glad that you joined me on Burnaby Mountain.

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      1. We were very fortunate, Rebecca. We were there during a period when actually seeing Mount Fuji wasn’t expected. We wanted to go anyway!
        It was a cloudy day. However, as we arrived the clouds parted. I took so many pics. Hahah. I wasn’t going to miss such an opportunity as that.
        Yes, it is wonderful.
        xoxoxo

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  10. I adore the sculptural metaphors.
    That is a beauty of the art of sculpture. One speaks in a third dimension. Yet, I feel the creators of these sculptures were also speaking in an 11th dimension.
    What is the 11th dimension?
    It is beyond the 10th, and any dimension that modern minds have put any kind of abstract logic unto.
    Our First Nations forefathers were aware of the mystic forces, and respected them. We today have a lot of respects to learn.
    Great stroll thought the 11th, Rebecca. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you for adding your profound thoughts and reflections. I agree, Resa, we have a lot of respects to learn. We live in an existence where we recognize the three dimensions that create our reality, but we have a deep longing to know what is beyond. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.” Thank you for joining me – so enjoy our conversations. We are on a grand journey, together.

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      1. We are definitely on a grand journey!
        I do think respect is the main thing. After all, we ARE here. However, we know nothing, save being here.
        Hope you had a bit of a laugh with the email I sent! LOL!!!

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