It was my fourth trip to Japan, but the first since I had started writing my novel. I was still not sure of what the overarching plot would be, how certain knots in the story would unravel. I was hoping to find an inspiration on my journey.
I found myself on Enoshima by accident. Other plans that we had for that day went awry, and I was stuck browsing the guidebooks for an idea. Enoshima was supposed to have good restaurants and views of Mt. Fuji.
But the tiny island turned out to be full of something else – dragons. There were dragons everywhere, dragon-shaped fountains, dragon carvings, even dragon faucets in the bathrooms. In the middle of the island there was a shrine of the Owatatsumi, the Dragon King God, built inside a shallow cave with rows of purple banners in front of the entrance. Recognizing some of the the names on the banners, I consulted the guidebook and learnt that this was where the Japanese artists prayed for guidance and inspiration. And here I was, trying to write a book about dragons in Japan. Could there have been a better omen? I dropped a hundred-yen coin into the offering box, clapped my hands and bowed.
I moved on, discovering more mysteries of the island. The dragon caves. The secret tunnels. The tide jewels of the Dragon King. I could barely manage to write all those ideas down. Suddenly the convoluted plots were unravelling, the main story took shape before my eyes.
The Dragon King’s blessing proved bountiful. For a hundred yen, it was a bargain.